We're all on the journey.
December 14, 2022
Technically Empowered: How To Raise Tech-Healthy Humans with Daniel Sih Summary

“Raising Tech-Healthy Humans” is a positive, researched handbook to teach you strategies to set up your children and pre-teens with healthy tech and non-tech habits for life. Written for busy parents who are stretched for time, this engaging 2-hour read will inspire, encourage, and guide you in the wonderfully complex task of raising tech-healthy humans. You will di…

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Screen time.

It’s the new currency utilized when measuring how our children spend much of their time interacting with the world.


With the holiday season upon us, many of us will be giving the gift of technical access to the young ones throughout our lives. Spreading accessibility to gadgets, games, and even communication or learning devices.


Yet, with this gift comes empowering access to a connected world of data, influence, and interaction. A world that inevitably might also contain what is sometimes more adverse and insidious in nature - Childhood Screen addiction.


The present world is now largely digital. From checking social media on our phones to gaming or binging a new show -it’s hard to escape this cultural norm. Even our educational systems have grown to hinge on leveraging digital technology as a productive asset.


So how do you encourage your kids to build healthy tech habits while also giving their brains a break?


Author, Daniel Sih is here to tell us how we can raise tech-healthy humans when we return tothe light inside.


———— Resources

Raising Tech-Healthy Humans


Glow Kids: How Screen Addiction Is Hijacking Our Kids - and How to Break the Trance

How Screens Affect Children - Children & Technology Facts

Social Media Effects on Teens - Social Media & Mental Health




Featured Guest: Daniel Sih


JOIN US ON INSTAGRAM: @thelightinsidepodcast

SUBSCRIBE: pod.link/thelightinside

Credits:Music Score by Epidemic Sound

Executive Producer: Jeffrey Besecker

Mixing, Engineering, Production, and Mastering: Aloft Media Studio

Senior Production Manager: Anna Getz

--- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/thelightinside/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/thelightinside/support



Technically Empowered: Raising Tech Healthy Humans with Daniel Sih

[00:00:00] Daniel Sih: Yeah, no, thanks for the question, Jeff.

[00:00:02] Uh, so I'm a productivity consultant. That's my main trade, and I speak about making space with leaders all around the place. And it's funny because I talk about technology and overuse and how we can be more productive by unplugging as well as using tech well, but the number one question that always comes up is from a parent, and it always comes up.

[00:00:22] It's like, how do I help my kids with what I'm seeing in terms of technology? And, why is it so important to raise healthy kids in the technology world? Like, uh, I mean the research from America that shows that when parents are asked, what is the number one thing that you are concerned about?

[00:00:41] it's technology and the complexity of raising kids in a tech field world, recognizing that technology is wonderful and exciting and necessary and that you're gonna have to prepare kids to be really savvy with tech. But also recognizing that there's something about tech that is addictive and that seems to draw kids away from relationships and healthy patterns and, and actually make some less human, which is why I called the book Raising Tech healthy Humans.

[00:01:10] Cuz my heartbeat is for us to raise humans, , who are broad and wide and, and use tech, but also know how to use it well.

[00:01:19] Jeffrey Besecker: Yeah, that, that whole idea of digitalization, you know, in and of itself, we've kinda formed that disconnect with our humanness. We're seeing now through AI how it can even replace large swats of our humanness.

[00:01:35] So, Keeping that in mind, what are some of the more common pitfalls children and young adults faces? both they and their parents, begin to assess the safety and effective use of modern technology?

[00:01:49] Daniel Sih: Yes. Big question. I think it depends very much on the child's age, and this is where it's quite a different idea than giving generic advice to adults.

[00:01:57] Yeah. Because, you know, a two year old child has a completely different brain than a five year old child. And that's different than a tween and a teen. and so, you know, even the advice that I would give changes in, in my book, I talk about grading up as they grow up. And the idea is that we need to be really thoughtful about what's happening in the development of our children's brain and their emotions and their humanity, uh, their relationships.

[00:02:23] Uh, and to realize that actually there's a point where, giving tech to young is actually really counter. Helpful. Uh, it's, it's not helpful for them. And, and yet obviously there's a point where we introduce tech and then there's a point where we just trust our kids that we've passed on the right patterns and rhythms and we've set them up and we just have the relationship and the conversations.

[00:02:45] and so it's, it's not quite as simple as here's one answer. Um, but, but there are really solid principles that we can go with that will guide us and help you make decisions as parents along the way in a really clear and non-complicated way.

[00:02:57] Jeffrey Besecker: You know, I think most of us have experienced as parents how we can bend to that pressure of our children.

[00:03:04] the I want and the, they haves , I'll label it that way. The I want, and they haves that starts to become social comparison even in our children, you know, at a very, very young age these days. From that perspective, what are some of the tips and guidelines we can utilize? When gauging, when and what technology are a good segue for our kids to step into that world of.

[00:03:29] Daniel Sih: so look, why don't we start really young? I mean, it's probably worth thinking. . You may be a parent or you may, you may have kids already, or you may be thinking, oh my gosh, technology's already out of control and I, I dunno what to do. So it's very hard to speak to one audience cuz we're all coming from different perspectives.

[00:03:45] But let's say we start from scratch. Uh, you know, the research is quite clear that during, you know, the very, very early years from like birth to toddlers, so zero to two years, basically no technology except for maybe a bit of screen timing with like a, a family member who lives somewhere else is really the recommendation because kids.

[00:04:05] Get confused. Their brains can't work out what they're actually looking at. And actually to stimulate their brain with screens and flashing lights or anything that's developed in the, you know, in terms of iPads and iPhones, uh, it, it's just actually bad for their brain and it actually reduces their ability to learn and grow irrespective of what the content is almost.

[00:04:27] and so that's a hard message cuz most parents find that it's so attempting to give their kids, you know, phones early on. And it's amazing that, like, you see, wow, the kids can already swipe the phone and look at photos , uh, and yet, you know, it's hard to, uh, hard message to say now where possible let them learn the old fashioned way, you know, through cuddles and play and googoos and gagas and peekaboos with real people, with real faces.

[00:04:51] Do you know what I mean? And that's, that's how we developed as humans. Uh, and, and then you move into, let's say the, the earlier years, so, you know, two to five years old. The American Pediatric Association also still recommends, you know, no more than an hour a day, but even when that hour happens, it's like, what's the content?

[00:05:10] You know, so are you co watching with them? And, and, uh, as opposed to just putting 'em in front of a screen, obviously the content matters. It has to be appropriate. Uh, but one of the things that parents don't realize is that the type of screens that they use is really important. And so, there's something that's different.

[00:05:26] We call it lean back versus lean forward screens. And so a lean back screen is like a, you know, the old-fashioned tv, uh, or Netflix even, even though that's new, but it's where you are passively watching something like OK Norths, if you're that, you know, if you're five years old, or, I dunno what you watch, pepper Pig, I, we probably have different shows in Australia, , uh, but, but you're watching something from a distant Sesame Street.

[00:05:48] and, uh, and you are engaging in a passive way. and yet the opposite is what we call lean forward technologies like, uh, swipe base screens, iPads, phones, and even if they're educational, the research shows that once you have flashing lights, uh, or variable rewards or all the kind of different cues that come by interacting with a screen, it actually stimulates part of the brain, which is the lizard brain, which is the fight, flight, or freeze part of the brain.

[00:06:17] And when done too young, it can really impact a child's mental development in a negative way, actually. Uh, because if you ramp up the part of the brain that responds to kind of lights and rewards and social cues, it can actually create a sense of kind of wiring a, a bit like an anxious response, or even, you know, it's been referred to like a cocaine or amphetamine response where kids get this.

[00:06:44] Rush and this high of, of, like neurotransmitters because of the, the enormity of the, the flashing. And then they have a crash and so they want to go back to the screen so their behavioral crews go and they lose the ability to modulate and monitor their emotions and they haven't yet developed the type of brain that can actually use these very high powered devices in a way that, uh, is helpful for them.

[00:07:09] And that's a hard message for parents because almost all, all kids are given these devices early.

[00:07:13] Jeffrey Besecker: Looking at that idea of that dopamine hit, you know, that very quote unquote addictive interaction with it, can become hard at that age to reasonably and logically separate a child and say, I know I gave it to you before, but now you can't.

[00:07:32] Daniel Sih: It's very hard once you've started, obviously, but it's not impossible, you know, and certainly you can put healthy guidelines in place and, and once you actually understand what's healthy and what's not for your child's brain, well then you can start to make choices about how much they use of one thing and how much they don't with another.

[00:07:48] Uh, for example, my kids use a bit of Minecraft, but I look at Minecraft and it's designed with variable rewards where if you keep digging, you'll randomly get diamonds. it's designed to ramp up the fight, flood, flood or freeze mechanism. So you have to hide from monsters at night or kill them if they attack you.

[00:08:05] Like that is. Deliberately designed to be addictive and, and to, to ramp up the lizard brain as opposed to the broader cerebral cortex and and prefrontal cortex, which is where our thinking is, you know? So yeah. So it's designed to make us, uh, reactive, anxious, wired, fight, or flighty. And so too much of that's really not helpful for kids' brains.

[00:08:27] And so my kids get a few hours on a Saturday of that, but then they have to do, they get passive technologies and screens, uh, for the rest of the week. So it's just trying to monitor what types. Shows they watch, but also what type of medium they use. And uh, and, and so it's not taking screens away altogether, it's just starting to realize, oh, what are the kind of screens that will make my child really anxious or misbehaved or, you know, what are the kind of things that are causing aggressive dream at night about their technologies rather than, you know, experience the breadth and depth and wonder of all the things that childhood can involve.

[00:09:04] Riding bikes, climbing trees, playing with friends, using Lego. You know, there's so much to do in life, isn't there?

[00:09:10] Jeffrey Besecker: Yes. You've witnessed some of that through various family members. I'll frame it in that way. Especially male children, family members, where that usage starts to subversively surface as aggression.

[00:09:25] Hmm.

[00:09:26] Daniel Sih: Oh, definitely. And look, there's plenty of research that says that the things we watch, uh, whether it be, you know, violent games or, you know, for adults, you know, even violent pornography, like the, we are shaped by what we watch, whether we like it or not. And particularly, again, in a younger brain where they're not developed because the fight or flight brain, the lizard brain, you know, limbic system brainstem, that's developed when kids are young, so they can touch something and react.

[00:09:51] Uh, they can have a tantrum and you see all their emotions when you take away, you know, chocolate from them or something. Yeah. Uh, but the, the part of the brain that. Is, um, the, the squiggly bit that's over the top, you know, the main part of the brain , that's not developed until they're 25. And it's certainly not developed at two years old or five years old.

[00:10:08] And our process actually, as we grow up is to learn to develop a healthy brain, which means learning patience and self-control, learning to think creatively and to imagine learning, to have empathy and to relate and to, to gain social cues from people in our environment. Uh, and what the research is saying, at least with internet addiction, if, if kids use too much of the internet when they're young, they actually reduce, they, they ramp up the fight, flight, or freeze part of their brain over stimulate that.

[00:10:39] and they under develop the parts of the brain that we need to be healthy, functioning adults. And, and that's where we end up with some of the often really bad behaviors in teenagehood. Because , we don't have a healthy brain. And you can't be a healthy person without a healthy brain. Not

[00:10:53] Jeffrey Besecker: unconsciously, we're not gonna take too far of a right turn on that today, but still it bears earmarking that we say there are guidelines, there are healthy bounds, there are healthy boundaries as adults that we can both establish, reinforce, and mirror ourselves.

[00:11:12] So with that in mind, are there any standards or research studies demonstrating a suggested guideline for safety or for, say again, screen time or healthy use?

[00:11:25] Daniel Sih: Yeah, look, it's, it is quite complicated and the guidelines keep changing. Yeah. Because as you can imagine, technology in kids is so new. Like, I mean, the, I, the iPhone is still like a teenager.

[00:11:35] Do you know what I mean? Yeah. . And so research takes, you don't have longitudinal studies, however, yeah. Uh, until recently, the, the guidelines have been certainly zero screens from zero to 18 month to, or zero to two years. So depending on Australia or America, but basically avoid it altogether. No more than one hour a day, uh, for two to five, and then ideally no more than two hours a day older than that, and through teenagehood, except for study and work.

[00:12:01] However, it's not just about the screen times. It's about. The medium that you use, again, I talked about lean forward and lean back. Yes. So half an hour of using Minecraft on an iPad can reduce sleep in children, whereas two hours, for example, of an appropriate television show will reduce sleep. So the medium ramps up different parts of the brain.

[00:12:21] Uh, and the other one is actually lean, uh, near work or far work, which is actually incredibly important, particularly if you are nearsighted. So if you have myopia or you are nearsighted, the research is actually incredib. Uh, well, it's growing more and more that lots of near work, which means lots of iPads and, and iPhones, which are less than 40 centimeters away from your eyes, uh, actually increases the risk of myopia, which may not sound like a problem, you know?

[00:12:48] So 50% of us are gonna be wearing glasses by 2050. That's what the World Health Organization says. Yeah. But, um, but severe myopia actually, you have a 70% chance of being blind, or not being able to like 90% chance of being visually impaired by 70 years old if you have severe myopia.

[00:13:07] So, so if you are already, uh, at risk of shortsightedness because your parents are shortsighted or you have Asian eyes, there's a genetic kind of disposition in Asian, uh, genes in order to lead to myopia, then we have to be even more careful and have less near work, which is the close screens and more far work, which is ideally using television screens.

[00:13:28] So it's just worth thinking about all those factors.

[00:13:30] Jeffrey Besecker: And coupled with that, you know, we have that implication. I'll frame it as implication of blue light exposure. Hmm. You know, as you mentioned, disrupting sleep, also disrupting some of our emotional processing. I'll tiptoe up to that and without diving too far into that today.

[00:13:49] So being mindful of that, you know, also keeping in mind how. From settings, you know, I know now with the iPad and other devices, iPhone, you have day and night settings. You have, you know, switching the theme from dark to light to kind of help reduce that. So keeping those things in mind.

[00:14:09] Daniel Sih: Yeah, absolutely.

[00:14:10] Yeah. And look, I mean, my first book was actually written for people like me because , I mean, I, I found, I, I broke my leg and I found that I was in bed and I started playing Crossy roads, which is this a simple game on the phone. And, and I'm just trying to get as far as I can. And I just got really, really good at it.

[00:14:25] You know, I was competing and winning each kind of all, you know, getting in the top three around the world of Crossy roads. And then I just thought, what am I doing? Like, I'm just completely addicted to this game, which adds no value to my life in real time. And it takes away so much. Uh, so. We've all been caught in that trap.

[00:14:43] Yeah. Where we email too much or we check too much of Instagram or Facebook or, or we get caught on Candy Crush. And so if adults are struggling with the addictive design of phones, if we're being ramped up in terms of our kind of lizard brain and we're finding that we're more scattered and fractioned in our thoughts and more unable to concentrate, uh, less able to enjoy silence and solitude or reflect on the inner life because of how we use our tech will, then of course, a five year old doesn't have the ability, their brain does not have the ability to handle these highly refined, highly addicted design tools, which are adult tools for the adult world.

[00:15:23] And so we don't think of the phone like that. We don't think of it like a chainsaw or a, I don't know, a power tool. , which is designed for adults and only suitable for adults because they've got these fun little characters and wonderful little games. But they are, Incredible supercomputers that really are not designed for young developing brains.

[00:15:44] And that's a hard message because as parents, we're in a culture where everyone is doing the opposite except for the CEOs of Silicon Valleys. You know, those tech company leaders don't give their kids devices cuz they know how addictive they are. But the rest of us are in this cultural pressure to, to give our kids devices early, to love them, to keep them up to pace.

[00:16:06] And then we wonder why so many kids are misbehaving, anxious, not sleeping well, struggling with relationships. Um, it's not just the tech, but tech is certainly impacting our kids' mental health and their development in a way that isn't necessarily helpful. Hmm. We got

[00:16:23] Jeffrey Besecker: that similar reaction as you mentioned, that dopamine rush, that you know, surfaces as the drive for hopefully healthy accomplishment.

[00:16:33] Healthy competition, finding that balance to kind of mirror and separate that with that in mind, as parents, we are sometimes unaware of new trends in tech that happen. as an aging parent myself as much as I , am a little reluctant to admit that , I know it's often a struggle to stay in touch with what our kids are engaging in.

[00:16:59] As new trends come along, we're not as interactive with them. How then might we keep attuned to the latest trends of, say, new platforms, apps, or even harmful trends like eating Tide pod.

[00:17:14] Daniel Sih: Yeah, that lock both through

[00:17:16] Jeffrey Besecker: the tech.

[00:17:17] Daniel Sih: It's a hard question, and again, it depends, you know, I said grade up as you grow up.

[00:17:22] So when the kids are younger, let's say, you know, five, six, you know, even, even 12, 13, depending on how you've set up your kids with tech, you can use a bit of a restrictive framework. So one of the things I talk about in my book is when do you give your kid, you know, let's say an iPad or an iPhone? And my big message is don't give it to them out of the box because they're adult devices designed for the adult world.

[00:17:43] So even when you give them these devices, put on parental controls so that you can restrict what apps they can and can't use. So you can re set healthy limits about when they use the internet and when they can't access the internet. Uh, what we don't wanna do is just give 'em, you know, a phone and just say, good luck.

[00:18:02] Enter the adult world because it's dangerous and it leads to a whole lot of, negative consequences. Uh, So, so in that sense, you can keep up because you are restricting what they used from the get go. But when they enter, let's say late tweens or teens, and obviously they enter young adulthood, well then you can't keep up because there's this, they enter the world that we enter and they're better at it than we are, and they know more.

[00:18:24] And technology is just so fast. This is why I also talk about, you know, you wanna start restricting kids at the, the front end, but you also want to create patterns in your family where you are passing on your values to them and having meaningful conversations regularly about texts so that those conversations and those rhythms continue as they get older.

[00:18:45] And those rhythms could be tech rhythms, like, um, you know, making sure that you, you use tech in a particular way and discuss what you're watching together. or they could be non-tech rhythms, like digital free meals or, uh, charging your phone outside of bedrooms, or having digital free car trips, you know.

[00:19:03] So you're creating these norms in your family . Yeah. Where, where people, where the kids learn the values that you wanna pass on and therefore you don't have to keep up with the tech because hopefully those values and patterns and rhythms will be embedded in their life, uh, through your family culture and your family norms, as long as you are intentional in them.

[00:19:23] And talk about how tech works within those places.

[00:19:27] Jeffrey Besecker: You know, that role of communication is so essential, especially as we mentioned, those preteen years when your 12 year old daughter might be discovering the gainful benefits of economic growth via only fans. How do we start to establish some of those guidelines in communication so we can.

[00:19:49] Maintain healthy boundaries and still have kind of a restrained yet watchful eye over their digital interactions.

[00:19:58] Daniel Sih: Mm. Yeah, great question. And the relationship and the conversations is such a critical part of parenting Full stop, let alone tech parenting. Uh, and being able to talk about the hard things and the good things together.

[00:20:09] I like, uh, I remember someone, you know, when I was trying to understand business and they said, you know, when it comes to shopfront, uh, bricks and mortar business, you know, location, location, location is the the catch cry. If you get that wrong, you're in trouble right from the get go. And I think relationship, relationship relationship is a pretty good parenting catch cry when it comes to how you're gonna set your kids up.

[00:20:32] Uh, and, and so I've got a chapter about, you know, how might you talk regularly about. Tech, and I think there's two ways to do it. I mean, there's probably myriad ways, but one is to have really positive interactions around tech with your kids, because it's part of their life and their world. So, you know, can you have a family movie night?

[00:20:50] Uh, can you watch the shows that they watch and talk about it? You know, why ? Why is Anakin such a, a whiny boy in the newest Star Wars movies? Or or wi, you know, you know, like, I don't know, ask the questions. You know, was it good or bad that Harry Potter did this, or, I mean, there's, there's so many different ways, you know?

[00:21:09] Now my daughter's 15 we're watching Stranger Things, and she's like, you know, did you really wear that in the eighties? And I'm like, yes, actually we did . Uh, but the point is, we're having conversations, we're watching the same stuff. We're talking about the things that they're engaging in, and I'm passing on my values as well.

[00:21:25] So it's like, you know, actually, you know, when you shack up with someone, you meet straight away. , you don't have love at first sight . You know the sex isn't that great and you actually don't feel good inside. So let's talk about, you know, what we see positively and negatively. Does that make sense? So, so if you have the conversations and if you're engaging in tech, it's this great opportunity to build relationship.

[00:21:48] So on the one hand, we want to guard and protect our kids by slowing them down in the early years. But when we introduce them, yeah, take the opportunity to talk about tech and, and to really allow it to dis Yeah. We can talk about poverty. You can talk about, um, Consumerism. You can talk about relationships.

[00:22:07] I mean, all the themes that you would love to talk about with your kids, come up through the movies they watch and the games they play. If you're creative enough to ask questions and Yeah. And to engage in those things with them from a young age. So it's not kind of weird when they're 15 and it's like, , now let's start watching TV together and we've never done it before.

[00:22:24] Yeah.

[00:22:25] Jeffrey Besecker: in that regard, empowering our children and enabling them with the gifts and assets they need to succeed, you know, as an obvious and perhaps foregone equation in that manner. How then might we monitor or gauge our own behavior patterns to kind of dictate and guide when we're following versus that kind of constant need to stock or oversee every action, especially teens, you know, how do we build and maintain those healthy principles of boundary?

[00:22:57] Daniel Sih: Yeah, it's hard, isn't it? Oh, look, I like how Ben Brown in, uh, what is it? Daring Greatly. In her book, she talks about parenting, and I can't, I can't quote her, but basically she says that the quality of your parenting will be the quality of who you are as a person. Essentially, the work you do on yourself is the best thing you can do to pass it on, because in, in reality, parenting is about modeling an imitation, at least in the early years.

[00:23:22] And, and I would say even in the teen years, that if you don't start with self in terms of your tech habits and tech beliefs and behaviors, if you don't allow yourself to be challenged in terms of why do I check my phone on the toilet? Or, or why do I think my child will be safer with a phone when the research actually shows that they're probably less safe with a phone than having a phone?

[00:23:42] And why am I, why am I living according to these consumer scripts that have been passed onto me without thinking through them deeply and, and how am I living them in my own life? Because. You know, if you're lying on the couch, zoned out, kind of scrolling Instagram cuz you're tired at the end of the day, and then you look up and you say to your kids and you've been on your screens too long, get off your screens,

[00:24:04] I mean, they're gonna copy what you say, what you do more than what you say. And yeah, I, I dunno if that answers your question. Yeah. Because it depends on age group. Again, you've asked a question for teens, but it depends on what age. But I would say you've, you've got to start with self. my starter framework, which is the tech framework.

[00:24:22] I go through step by step for tech parenting and raising humans. That the first step is s start with self and there's some practical tips on how you might audit your own digital habits. Hey, you might assess the values and beliefs that you hold, that you can recognize because of the behaviors you have.

[00:24:41] and then to recognize what are, what are the stories that I'm living by and how am I passing on those tech stories? Through my own behaviors that that's kind of foundational stuff in order to be a really great tech parent

[00:24:54] and a really great

[00:24:55] Jeffrey Besecker: parent, perhaps at that

[00:24:58] Daniel Sih: or, or a really good human. I mean, that's the thing, isn't it?

[00:25:01] Jeffrey Besecker: Or a really good human, and there's a lot that can be learned to by that

[00:25:05] Don: I nsert break. Break. break.

[00:25:07] on that regard. I know in our setup we discussed a little bit at looking at some of that dynamic of discerning and assessing, even from what's real and what's fake, fake news, fake media. We hear all that. How do we guide our kids toward a more functional, evolving awareness of how to judge what's on the.

[00:25:32] Daniel Sih: Yeah, look, it's good. I mean, firstly I'd say it goes to the relationship and the conversations. Yeah. That, uh, you know, it, it's important to be able to say, Hey, like when, when my daughter says to me now, oh, did you know this? I'm like, oh, where did you get that information? Like, what was your source, , and what might be some alternative perspectives and how can we fact check that?

[00:25:52] You know, so it's, it's getting, getting that idea that we need to curate the information that we receive and realize that it's not all true just because our friends sent it to us. Yeah. To, to try to question the authority of friends necessarily compared to, you know, others. Uh, I mean, one of the challenging things about social media and our digital culture full stop, is it undermined.

[00:26:15] authority, and it particularly undermines institutional authority, political authority, and parental authority. So one of the challenges once we expose our kids to social media and give them free reign to these highly powered devices is that the messages of culture will intentionally undermine the authority you have to speak into your kid's life and to be a source of wisdom and learning, because western culture undermines authority.

[00:26:41] And, and the message is, if you follow your heart and trust your feelings and actually, uh, kind of decentralize authority and trust your friends, well then that's the ultimate source of truth. Now it's, it's not that following your gut can't work, but actually. We should be trusting medical professionals over our friends when it comes to medical things.

[00:27:04] And we, we should be able to trust, uh, reputable news, resources, sources, that fact check more than the best meme on Facebook. But that's not how our young people think because we're not training them to think that way. So there is a challenge. We wanna build the authority as parents and the relationship where they will allow us to give wisdom because we do have wisdom that can guide 'em through the pitfalls.

[00:27:28] and and part of that, unfortunately, I think is slowing down how fast we expose 'em to social media, which deliberately undermines that until their brains are mature enough and our relationships are strong enough for us to maintain a healthy parental relationship. I, I, I've been on a, I've gone on a tangent, but I don't know if that connects with you at all from what you see, Jeff,

[00:27:48] Jeffrey Besecker: on that idea of authority.

[00:27:51] You know, growing up. we're showing our age here. Maybe growing up , we were raised on that maxim of seeing is believing. Perhaps as we move into this digital age, we evolve that maxim a little bit to healthy questioning is believing, especially relating to authenticating someone's age. I'll frame it in that way.

[00:28:13] You know, seeing that 14 year old boy who you think might be a potential dating prospect, and being able to kind of question and ask, is he who he really is representing himself as, or might I be let astray? We'll frame it in that way. Yeah. You know, how do we bridge that gap, that very real threat.

[00:28:36] Bloom out there in the form of pedophiles, others who are taking advantage, even people of their own age we're finding out today, or taking advantage even as our kids are exposed to mass shootings and seeing that can of numbing effect to the exposure of that. Mm-hmm. Yeah.

[00:28:57] Daniel Sih: Look, I mean, there's so much that kids are exposed to through the internet.

[00:29:01] This is why I liken the internet to like a chainsaw . Yeah. In the sense of you probably wouldn't give a chainsaw to a seven year old, and yet we'll give our phones. to a seven year old and not recognize the power of influence and the, the, you know, the, the sphere of influence that these devices have.

[00:29:19] Uh, but again, there's a lot of hope for parents because we can engage in conversations if we're creative enough and willing enough to do it. Uh, you know, a a classic we talk, you just talked about, you know, obviously there are, there are dangerous people who definitely, reach out to our kids Yeah.

[00:29:34] Through devices that is quite prevalent and uh, and the myth that we give our kids phones to keep them safe is completely no. Unsubstantiated in the research because most of the dangers now come through our phones . And it's, and the dangers are often mental health dangers more than physical dangers actually.

[00:29:53] Yeah. Uh, but, but even then there's lots, lots of positives. I mean, I, I was. my daughters just started watching, I dunno, love island or something. I mean, where, where people start to talk to each other and they don't see each other and they decide whether they want to get married through the conversations without seeing what they look like.

[00:30:10] Mm-hmm. , which, I mean, it's, it sounds like great television. , but we were talking about it and, and my daughter was saying, I think it's good because you know, then it's not just about what you physically look like, it's about the relationships. But I was able to say, well the problem is when you wanna work out who to date, and this is my advice to you, you need to see how the person interacts in community.

[00:30:30] Yeah. How do they relate to your family? How do they relate to your friends when you put them under pressure, when you see them in stressful or moral situations, uh, or when someone says something negative to them, how do you see them interact with others in a mature way? Because that's one of the huge tests of whether you would want to date or certainly marry the person,

[00:30:48] And it's not just about these two isolated individuals living this life together, cuz that's not how a healthy marriage or family works. Uh, a healthy marriage and family works in community. And so again, it was great because, you know, that conversation was out. This media discussion.

[00:31:05] And it's another example of how you can bring in your personal values. And for us, you know, we have a value that it's in community, that you have the strongest marriages and families and relationships. It's not isolated as individuals. And so again, you just bring in a little bit of your values. So media can be fantastic, but unfortunately it does require a certain level of activity and engagement.

[00:31:27] Rather than just say, here's the electronic babysitter, I hope that Apple will, you know, raise you as well as I would like to. Good luck

[00:31:36] Insert Love Island. - Za

[00:31:37] Jeffrey Besecker: with that in mind in that idea of community. Also instilling in our children those values, morals, character evaluations, I'll frame it as that. Also allow us to predict and also not indulge such things as bullying, hazing. Outright abuse, finding that moral ground to have self-worth and self-value, so we're not moving to the some of that unhealthy territory of body image or acceptance, validation, insecure interactions, insecure attachments.

[00:32:15] Yeah, it's all

[00:32:17] Daniel Sih: interesting ground. It is one of the, one of the best things we can do, I think, is to have, like, to eat meals or have beers with, or have real relationships with people who are very different from us. So we, we find that, you know, the, just the, the table is such an important place to raise our kids and to create our value system.

[00:32:38] And we've always tried to eat with people who have different political and social beliefs than us. because, you know, you can, you can be a Democrat, you can be a Republican, you can be a liberal or a laborer in our country and have all these great opinions about what the other side thinks and what they're like.

[00:32:54] But actually, if you eat a meal, you know, every fortnight with someone who thinks completely the the opposite to you, you'll use, you'll, you'll pretty quickly find your common ground and actually realize that, that maybe some of your beliefs are a little bit binary, , and a little bit, um, Narrow minded, maybe a lot, bit actually

[00:33:12] Yeah. Maybe a lot narrow minded. And actually maybe the world is less black and white than you think it is. Whether you are a hardcore left progressive or a hardcore Right. You know, conservative and, and if we just ate regularly and talked with each other more, we could actually grow up. And I, I see this all the time.

[00:33:30] Yeah. And so one of the practices we have in our house is a digital free meal. Uh, even just as our own family, we have a digital free meal, uh, where we, we talk about what's our high and what's our low and what's our buffalo. So something strange or weird from the week. We just, what's the high point for the week, the low point and a buffalo.

[00:33:47] But we also do it with others. We have neighbors who have different beliefs than us, different political persuasions, different faith. And you know, every fortnight or every month we just have a dinner. And it's a great way for our kids to experience. Truth, actually. Yes. You know, as opposed to that, that's, you can, you can sense truth more if you are having relationship with people than if you just have online social relationships and lots of shared angry messages come in and out of your life

[00:34:15] Jeffrey Besecker: in that regard, the great upside is much like you and I, we broaden our circle of community around the world, meeting people completely on the other side of the globe.

[00:34:27] If we open our mind and our heart and our soul and our spirit and our energy, I'm gonna throw all of the basket in there today to that interaction.

[00:34:37] Daniel Sih: Oh, absolutely. And that's the beautiful thing about technology. So, you know, I'm not an anti-tech person my whole life , my life revolves around tech and I love these conversations that, you know, I, I get to have with people like yourself expecting.

[00:34:50] Jeffrey Besecker: It's finding that. Happy medium, that middle ground, the equanimity in things that stabilizes and equalizes.

[00:34:59] Daniel Sih: Mm-hmm. . Yeah. And I mean, here's my vision for kids generally and for parenting, and it's that we will raise humans and humanity is broad and rich and deep and beautiful. Uh, I think part of becoming a healthy human nowadays is knowing how to interact with people online and FaceTime and email and, and, and, you know, share funny memes and be up to date with some of the best, you know, of Netflix, for example.

[00:35:26] But it can't be the majority of your life. It can't, you know, entertainment and, uh, online social activity. if we limit humanity to that, we actually become a shell of who we can be because, you know, Playing board games and cooking beautiful food and learning to look out at the sun and just sit and enjoy, you know, a sunrise or walk on the beach to, to climb trees and, and even to be bored and then have to make your own fun, uh, or to play an instrument.

[00:36:00] I'd like, I could just go on and on and on about how beautiful life is as humans if we allow it to be. But we are actually creating a generation of kids who are so dopamine addicted to screens that they actually lose their ability to see life beyond the online world. And, and it creates a shell of a human.

[00:36:23] Uh, and I don't want that for anyone. I, I want us to be able to enjoy the best. The online world, but to put it within its place. And, and that's why I wrote the book. Yeah. I, I, I want us to raise humans

[00:36:35] Jeffrey Besecker: in that same regard. You know, just like ourselves, we can become so connected with tech that we're disconnected, we're removed from each other as human beings.

[00:36:47] Now that our children are exposed to daily tech usage and it's become such an essential skill and asset for healthy and productive learning environments, how can parents work in conjunction with educators to set fair and equal goals for moderation, while also setting our children up for successful growth.

[00:37:09] Daniel Sih: The education question is tough.

[00:37:12] Jeffrey Besecker: it tough. That's the 40 million question. How is parents and educators do we mutually co-parent, and where do those lines blur? You know, that in and of itself is kind of touchy ground because so often in the education world it's hands off. You know, this is out of reach of us, it's not for us to.

[00:37:33] Daniel Sih: Yeah, and look, it's, it's tough for a number of reasons. I think , I mean obviously it's tough because we can't necessarily, you know, I can't influence the entire educational system. Yeah. But it's tough because again, I talk about grading up as you grow up. Like I'm pretty convinced that in primary school in Australia, so that, I dunno what you call it in America, that's, you know, like the younger years before high school, before teens, like, I think it should be pretty tech free.

[00:37:57] and there's been plenty of research now in putting in. Like iPads in every school, in some counties, in some regions. And the outcomes go down in terms of education. So, uh, there's a great book by, um, Dr. Nicholas Kaaris called Glow Kids, and he does a big section on education and tech. And he shows pretty clearly that when a school is performing above average, then adding tech can potentially increase educational outcomes.

[00:38:26] But for an average or below average school, adding tech is just a distraction and it reduces educational outcomes. And that's been shown again and again in American schools. And so when it comes to kids and tech in younger schools, basically it's the quality of the teaching and the pedagogy that increases education, not the technology.

[00:38:45] And technology can be a big fat distraction. and. We just keep thinking that technology will rescue our kids while our numeracy and literacy scores keep going down. Uh, but then it's complex because when they hit their high school years, their teen years, they do need to use tech because we need to raise them up and train them to be tech leaders and to be fantastic at tech and use it in all the different areas of work and life.

[00:39:08] And so again, it's having the maturity to realize how old your kids are, where their brain development is at, and when to introduce tech and when not to. And, and that's why it's not a simple yes or no type thing. It's, uh, both and at different ages. Uh, and yet, uh, I think as parents, we can at least be more intentional in what we do in our own backyard and create communities around us that can support the healthy development of humans within, uh, this tech soap.

[00:39:38] I dunno if that's a good answer, but it's the best I can do with such a big question. I

[00:39:41] Jeffrey Besecker: think. Yeah, that, that book, I feel will be such a great reference guide. Let's put that in our show liner notes for others to access and at least become familiarized with it. In addition to also linkage and access to your book of Of course, absolutely.

[00:40:01] Not to sidetrack that today, Daniel, from your perspective, are there any tips or secrets to great digital parenting that we may have overlooked or maybe sidestep today? Yeah,

[00:40:15] Daniel Sih: look, it, it can feel really complex and it can feel overwhelming when it comes to tech , but at the same time, I don't think there's any particular special tool for being a parent, really.

[00:40:25] It, it comes down to the, the , the, the everyday tools that we've always had. I talk about one of the principles in my book, which is, uh, when I had a child, my closest friend said to me, and, and they had a, you know, they're a few years ahead of us with kids. They said, don't forget that your role isn't to raise a child.

[00:40:42] It's to raise an adult. And what he meant by that, uh, he, he wasn't saying that we shouldn't let our kids be kids and play and have fun experiences, but what he was saying is that ultimately you want to raise your kids to be adults who are mature and who have good character and who can love others and have confidence and extend into the world without needing you to kind of coddle them.

[00:41:05] And if that's the case, uh, how do you think about. Parenting and technology all the way through their life, you know, how will this behavior. Raise them to be a healthy adult. So, you know, is it good to make them lunches when they're teenagers or is it better to say, actually you're old enough to make your own lunch?

[00:41:22] Because when you're an adult, you're gonna have to start making your own lunches yourself. Do you know what I mean? Like, is it good for you to spend so much time shooting people online like five, six hours a day when you know you're, I don't know, in primary school? Like, is that gonna train you to be the type of healthy choice adult that you want to be?

[00:41:39] So again, looking at your habits, and that's the same for us as adults, isn't it? Yeah. So in many ways I think it's just, I, I like that longer term picture. You know, how are the behaviors I'm giving my kids, whether they're tech or non-tech, going to help them develop a healthy life and a healthy adulthood.

[00:41:54] again, not to dismiss the beauty of childhood. I'm not trying to overlay adult responsibilities on kids before they're old enough, but let's grade them up as they grow up. Let's, let's keep. Remembering the vision that we're actually raising good character life field, beautiful humans who are adults and can contribute to the world and, and how the habits that we're encouraging in childhood gonna logically lead them that direction.

[00:42:21] I know that's a hard ask, but I think that makes it simple. At the same time,

[00:42:24] Jeffrey Besecker: raising those healthy and well adjusted adults all starts with raising, encouraged, healthy, safe, and secure children. Hmm, definitely. Daniel, I wanna thank you for this conversation today to open my eyes in a lot of ways now as I'm transitioning into my grandparent phase.

[00:42:46] You know, also co-parenting and helping raise children and young adults. So thank you for sharing your time with us today. I am so, so grateful for your energy and I really, truly appreciate. You stopping in today?

[00:43:00] Daniel Sih: Look, thank you so much for having me on the show and, uh, yeah, particularly around the launch of this book.

[00:43:06] I'm so excited to be able to talk about it as it gets released into the world. Always

[00:43:10] Jeffrey Besecker: a pleasure. Share with us a little bit more about the book and its release date.

[00:43:16] Daniel Sih: Yeah, so it's released, uh, on Amazon on the 1st of December. I'm not sure what date this is, but it may be a week after or a week before. Uh, and it's called Raising Tech Healthy Humans.

[00:43:27] Uh, it's deliberately a two hour read or less for parents. I've, I've tried to pack in a whole lot of great stuff, but in a very short book, uh, with lots of stories, and I talk about a lot of my personal parenting stuff up. So it's certainly not me telling you what to do because honestly, sometimes I have no idea myself, but I'm doing my best to make it a human book to help us raise humans.

[00:43:50] We're all, all

[00:43:51] Jeffrey Besecker: in this ride together, .

[00:43:53] Daniel Sih: We're all in this as we stuff up and make mistakes. Uh, but I, but, but I reckon we need to encourage each other along the way and help each other with the challenging questions.

[00:44:04] Jeffrey Besecker: Fantastic. Go out and look for the book. Where all can we find that? What platforms will the book be

[00:44:10] Daniel Sih: featured on?

[00:44:11] Yeah, look, I'm starting with Amazon to start with just for the first few weeks, and then I'll broaden it out to the rest of the book sites. Uh, I would love a review if you buy it as well, actually, because part of getting a book out is to be able to have people read it and share what they think. So please do that.

[00:44:26] That would be a great gift to me. Uh, I also have a website Raising humans.au. The au is for Australias, so raising humans.au and you can get a bunch of really great free stuff. Uh, there's a Parenting Resource Pack, which talks more in detail with experts around things like myopia. You can download checklists of fun stuff to do that doesn't involve tech.

[00:44:48] Awesome. Uh, and there's a whole lot of infographics and other stuff that you can get even if you're not, uh, ready to buy the books. So please pick that up. If you're interested at raising humans dot a Please, please

[00:44:58] Jeffrey Besecker: do and give that a first look and review. Daniel, how would you feel about doing a book giveaway?

[00:45:05] Oh, I'd love to do

[00:45:06] Daniel Sih: a book giveaway . That would be fantastic.

[00:45:09] Jeffrey Besecker: I've backed you in a quarter on that one. . No,

[00:45:12] Daniel Sih: no. I would really like to, but yeah. What am I gonna do on

[00:45:15] Jeffrey Besecker: National International Podcast? I would buy one. I'd love to buy one and sponsor that if I may .

[00:45:20] Daniel Sih: Well, that would be absolutely a fantastic, in fact, uh, you know, if you wanted to give away two or three, I'm very happy to send 'em your away.

[00:45:28] Jeffrey Besecker: Fantastic. Let's do that, sir. That would be amazing. Thank you again. This has been such a pleasure.

[00:45:34] Daniel Sih: Ah, look, thanks so much. I've loved the conversations. I love your podcast. I love the depth of looking under the hood at people's lives and thanks, thanks for having

[00:45:42] Jeffrey Besecker: me on the, we're all looking for that light inside.

[00:45:45] Thank you my friend,

[00:45:50] That was fun.

Daniel SihProfile Photo

Daniel Sih

Award-Winning Productivity Author



Daniel has 15 years experience working in senior leadership and strategic consulting roles across Australia and the UK. As a trainer, coach and keynote speaker, he has worked with CEO’s, executives, and other senior professionals throughout Australia and beyond, ranging from global corporations and businesses to universities and non-profits. He has a broad professional history, including leadership roles in physiotherapy, health management, project management and Christian ministry.

Daniel is an award-winning author — his book Spacemaker won the Australian Business Book of the Year 2021 (Personal Development) and a finalist for Best Technology Book and Best Cover Design.

Daniel is also an accredited Top 5 CliftonStrengths® coach with the South Pacific Strengths Network, and co-creator of Email Ninja eLearning®.

Daniel has 3 children, 18 chickens and is a founding Director of Spacemakers.