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176: Essential Strategies for Raising Kids in the Digital Age

Today we are going to be talking about social media, the online world and how technology impacts kids and how parents struggle to manage it all.


I have a special guest, Rania Mankarious, who wrote the book, About The Online World: What You Think You Know and What You Don’t. She wrote this book because parents were telling her how overwhelmed they feel about the online world, and kids tell her they need help and they don’t know how to talk to their parents. 


We all see the effects of this disconnect every day and hear the tragic stories of kids being hurt by everything from cyberbullies to drugs, identity theft, to addiction, suicide, sexual exploitation, and traffickers. These are good kids and their parents have no idea what’s happening–even the parents who follow and monitor their accounts. 


In her book, Rania bridges the digital gap between parents and kids so they can develop a family safety plan for their online engagement. Listen to this episode as we discuss many of the challenges parents and kids face online, and some strategies you can use today!

As always, thanks for listening, and be sure and head over to Facebook and you can join my free group Mastermind Parenting Community, where we post tips and tools and do pop up Live conversations where I do extra teaching and coaching to support you in helping your strong-willed children so that they can FEEL better and DO better. If you enjoyed this episode and think that others could benefit from listening, please share it!

About Randi Rubenstein

Randi Rubenstein helps parents with a strong-willed kiddo become a happier family and enjoy the simple things again like bike rides and beach vacays.

She’s the founder of Mastermind Parenting, host of the Mastermind Parenting podcast, and author of The Parent Gap. Randi works with parents across the U.S.

At Mastermind Parenting, we believe every human deserves to have a family that gets along.

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Thanks so much for listening to the Mastermind Parenting podcast, where we support the strong willed child and the families that love them!

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My name is Randi Rubenstein, and welcome to the Mastermind Parenting Podcast at Mastermind Parenting, we’re on a mission to support strong-willed kids and the families that love them. You’re listening to the Mastermind Parenting Podcast with Randi Rubenstein towed 1 76. Well, hi guys, I’m sitting here with Rania Mankarious and Today we are going to be talking about social media, the online world and how technology impacts kids and how parents struggle to manage it all. So thank you. Thank you. Thank you for being here to discuss this super important topic today, Randy. I’m so excited getting the chance to sit and talk to you specifically means so much, so I’m thrilled.

I’m so Well, I want to thank you because I’ve been pouring through your book that you just wrote, which I loved your exercises throughout the book. You educate people and then you provide the exercises for how to have difficult conversations. And You know, what I love is that like I teach, I mean, I’m everything. I kind of teach culminates into how to have a productive conversation with your kids. So I have this method for having a productive conversation. So I’m pretty good if I, if I do say so myself, I’m, I’m pretty good about Randi 200, These are uncomfortable conversations.

(1m 36s):
These are difficult conversations to have, and your teenager doesn’t want to be having them or your children don’t want to have be having them. And quite often I think what can stop us in our tracks is we don’t have the information to feel confident in leading that through these conversations. So I just am so appreciative that you wrote this book, and I’m just going to say the name of the book you guys. And I really feel like this is required reading for every parent and the fact that you wrote it also as an evergreen book, it’s like every parent, 2022 and beyond it’s called About The Online World, What You Think You Know, and What you don’t.

(2m 21s):
The title itself was a journey because, you know, at first there’s four tools in the book and the last tool is I want every kid to post like a celebrity. And of course, when I say that parents were like, what on earth? You’re supposed to be like a public safety family safety expert. What are you telling our kids? So the publisher at one point said, maybe we just call the book posts like a celebrity. Cause it’s so crazy. And then we said, no, but the book is so much more and it’s not blaming parents for not knowing it. It’s not trying to scare parents. It’s just a real look at what you know, and what you, What You Think You Know, and what you don’t know about the online. And it’s equipped with, you know, she added the four critical tools for raising kids in the digital age, because the whole point is to give you a roadmap.

(3m 9s):
That’s my thing. I want to equip kids and families with a road map when it comes to the online world, filled with tools based on knowledge understanding and the key words buy-in buy-in from parents and kids, so that kids will choose these tools wherever they go online forevermore. And to make it easy because as a mom, myself, we’re working, we’re raising our kids. We’re dealing with so many things in real time, we’re dealing with fears that are coming up. We have emotions attached to everything. It’s hard to say like, well monitor everything your kids are doing online too. Well, that’s impossible.

(3m 50s):
Like I don’t have the time and I wanted to create evergreen chunks. I wanted to take all the gray and turn it into really finite situ situational rules that will live on. And I, and I feel like, of course it’s not, it’s not encompassing every possible scenario, but it does deal with a bulk, an overwhelming bulk of what families will deal with online and kids. Let me tell you, I thought I knew I love it when I get to these stages in my kids’ lives where it’s almost like I’m sort of cocky, right? Like I remember when my daughter like hit middle school and I was like, I’ve been teaching parenting classes.

(4m 34s):
Right. At that time I was teaching conscious parenting classes. And I was like, like, I’m so conscious. Like, I wouldn’t say that to anyone, but I was kind of feeling It. And then all of a sudden, like the girls on the volleyball court, you know, said something nasty to her and she came out and her face was dropped. And I found the words that I would never say coming out of my mouth. Well, why don’t next time? You know, you should tell her. And my daughter kind of looked at me like, who are you? And where’s my mom. Like, it’s like all that conscious learning sort of went out the window for that moment. And I felt, even when I was, you know, I was starting to read the book, I was kind of like, yeah, yeah, yeah.

(5m 14s):
I’ve been having this conversation. So I’ve been tied talk to my son about porn when he, you know, before he even had social media, I’m, you know, there was almost like a little bit of cockiness for me. And as I continued to read, I was like, oh wow. I didn’t know that, you know that. And I didn’t, I didn’t feel like you gave me so much to put on my to-do list. Like I, now all of a sudden need to be the Gestapo, Timmy, Randy, I didn’t want to do that. I don’t want this to be another overwhelming tool for families. I want this to be such an easy like, oh, I get that. That’s so easy.

(5m 54s):
And I can apply that today. Like that was my whole thing. I wrote it really one, knowing what we know to thinking about the years of conversations I’ve had with young kids that said, I cannot believe that I’m in the place online that I’m in. I cannot believe I’m backed into the corner. I’m backed into I’ve sent what I’ve sent. I’ve been exposed to it. And I don’t know how to get out of it, to like parents who are like, I cannot handle the technology anymore. I’ve had like I’m done. And all these voices were sort of playing in my mind to the experts that are in my field that will say, look, kids just shouldn’t be online period, which isn’t reasonable. It’s just not reasonable. So my goal was really to create easy, concrete, super digestible tools that satisfied the experts who know what’s really going on in the, the dangers, but also really met the kids where they are doesn’t matter, tween going up and met the parents where they are.

(6m 51s):
And I’m so happy to hear you say that because it was the goal. It was one of my biggest heart goals of the book. Well, number one, it’s an easy read and I love how you intersperse you, you know, and pieces of your story in it. It’s also very educational without overwhelming me that now I have all these things. Where am I going to find the time to monitor all these things? I feel like you took the overwhelm out of it. I love that. You said roadmap, you provided the roadmap for me to sit down last night and have this difficult conversation with my child.

(7m 35s):
And because you, let me just read to you guys what this amazing human has done and what she does on a regular basis. Okay. So the fact that you, you say you’re not a detailed person, but I’m sorry. I might, I don’t know. I might, I might disagree with you on that because all that you’ve accomplished, like to have you in my back pocket during that conversation to be like, and here’s some facts like, like I don’t have to go do all the research run, you did it for me. And so I just was able to like, without some, some important facts and I also use Lindsey’s story that you shared in the book.

(8m 16s):
I’m sure it is not her real name, but I shared the Lindsay story with my son. And I would love to read it in just a minute to the listeners if that’s okay with you. Yes, because that was so impactful to me. And by sharing Lindsay’s story with my son, it also gave me a launching pad to kind of draw him into the conversation more. Okay. So Brenda is a public safety expert and she’s the CEO of Crime Stoppers of Houston with a Masters Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and a Doctorate of Jurisprudence. Okay. Like what in the everliving AF I mean, She is an avid writer and on air analyst, lover of people, their stories and our future, She has been seen and heard on national local TV and radio for over a decade as a legal family, crime, mental health and parenting expert Citing a personal mission to serve families and engage the public to better say to a better society.

(9m 10s):
Rania is a wife and mother of three and is leading by example and making a difference. And all of that is so true. I mean, you are the perfect person to write this book and put this resource out into the world for parents. So thank you for doing it. No, it was truly a labor of love. I can’t, you know, we deal with public safety issues every day. And the overwhelming majority of questions we get from families of every demographic, every socioeconomic status, every zip code, young families, older families, it didn’t matter. They all had ties to frustrations with the online world in the digital space.

(9m 55s):
And listen, the reality is if your kids were not online before COVID, they certainly are now. I mean, they’re texting teachers. It’s like normal. They’re FaceTiming their friends constantly. They zoom into class when they can’t or figure out a digital method to connect because there are so many, if they have to be out of pocket, I mean, the world became 100% virtual. I mean, it was before, but it’s like truly 100% virtual now. So whether or not we want to keep our kids off technology technology is going to find its way into their lives. And I had so many parents that said, well, they’re not allowed on social media period under discussion, not until they’re older. Okay, great. That’s fine. They’re not allowed on the app to access anything online until they’re older, they will not have a phone.

(10m 39s):
Okay. That’s great. And I don’t pass judgment on any family decisions, but then I’ll ask, you know, do your kids have an iPad? And like, oh yeah. You know, they’ve had an iPad since they were five years old. I’m like, you know, they can access the online world through the iPad. And it’s like, oh, I guess I never thought of that. Well, do they use Chromebooks at school? Yeah. Kids all, you know, there’s technology in school. Well, you know, they can access the online world at school. Do they go to, do they have play dates? You know, certainly they have play dates. Well, you know, they can access the online world at a friend’s house. So rather than shutting it out and saying, it’s so overwhelming, I’m just not going to deal with it. And I’m going to deny that it exists. I would prefer that we find an evergreen roadmap that builds our children from within where they are saying, I get this, I get it.

(11m 27s):
I’ll go back to my fourth tool posts like a celebrity. I just had the privilege of sitting on a national show yesterday. And the host said post like a celebrity. Like, I, I really respect you Rania, but I don’t understand what you’re telling our kids. And when I explained, I asked kids wherever I go to think of their number one, celebrity, or number one influencer and put that person in their minds. If I’m in a classroom setting and they’re allowed to pull out their, I’ll say, you know, please with your teachers permission to even pull out your phone right now and let’s go through I’ll I’ll, I’ll pick J-Lo or you guys pick somebody more age appropriate, you know, a younger demographic or whatever. Even the tailor is forever iconic. And I said, I want you to know, go through their feet.

(12m 10s):
They post a lot. They live online and I want you to tell me exactly where they live. I want to see exactly where they live based on their online engagement with you. And you see kids look up like, Hmm, I can’t tell you exactly where they live. Oh, say, okay, well they’re all usually wealthy. And they post their cars. I said, I want to see license plate numbers. Just show me a license plate number. And you see them start to say, like, I can’t, I can’t see the car, but I can’t see the lights. They’re actually strategically in front of the license plate. And I say, okay, well they have their businesses. Like they’re mega businesses. Like I just want to their office like show me their office. I want to be able to go to LA or New York and go straight to their office and catch a glimpse of them.

(12m 50s):
And they realize no way to do it no way. And I’ll have one kid that will say, well, I know her Kim cardiacs. She posts in real time. And I said, great example, but I guarantee Kim Kardashian travels with one or two layers of security. Do you travel with one or two layers of security? And my simple point is this, these celebrities and influencers who live their lives online, and I don’t cast any blame. I don’t judge for that at all. They’ve made their safety. Their number one priority is just their kids didn’t catch it. They didn’t recognize that they, these celebrities and influencers actually have specialized teams that makes sure they are posting safely.

(13m 31s):
You can’t find their numbers. You can never, ever find where they live. You can never contact them in real time, unless it’s perfectly orchestrated by their security teams. So a little nugget of information like that, a kid can digest quickly and it makes sense. And they can live with that. Whether they’re eight or 18 or 20, I get it that if, if every celebrity and influencer that I so look up to and navigate the online world has made their safety, their protecting their personal space. The first priority I can do that too. And I can still live online. So one of my biggest desires was to make this user-friendly and a really unscary way.

(14m 17s):
And in a really unsophisticated way, you know, these are actual, tangible nuggets of information tools in the tool belt that our kids will buy into. And our parents, we, the parents will, will absolutely understand. Well, You just did. I think what I think is so effective when you’re actually wanting to teach someone something and impart wisdom on them and educate them is you spoke to them. You spoke to the kids in a language that they relate to. Right? And so now all of a sudden they’re able to draw conclusions.

(14m 59s):
You know, I think so often we want to jump when we’re trying to have a productive conversation, because we really want to teach them all the things. And ultimately in this case, we want to keep them safe. Period. End of story. I think quite often what we do is we jump to the part of the productive conversation, which I call the O and P S right? Like w O and P S so, so Hey, so here’s the boundaries, here’s the rules, here’s what you won’t be doing. And, and we want to jump to the O and P S first and the problem with jumping to the NPS first, where we set the boundaries and what the consequences will be. And we try to use a lot of scare tactics, is that it’s almost like you’ve gone out on a date with someone and you’re asking them to sleep with you before you’ve even ordered the appetizer, like, forget a first kiss.

(15m 52s):
We want to just like, you know, we’re like, let’s go to business. Yeah. And it’s just not effective. It’s never going to be productive and it’s not effective. And so when you start with a relevant story and you’re speaking in the language of your audience, which for kids, they are, I think our culture right now, our society is celebrity obsessed. And we’re all online Cowboys here. Like this is the wild, wild west. I mean, parents didn’t grow up in this online world, so we’re all trying to figure it out. And so everyone’s celebrity obsessed.

(16m 32s):
And, and so speaking to them in that way, like talking about their favorite celebrities and they think they know everything about it, but yet where do they live? What is their like that, to me is such a productive way to teach an important lesson. So thank you for sharing that. No, and I, and I actually go into the methods they use to like wash the number. And it’s not because I I’m expecting kids to go through all that, but I want them to realize the value they place in their safety. They are not recklessly posting. They’re posting very strategically and they’re actually posting with their brand very much in mind. And that’s my tool. Number one, which is we want every kid to actually sit down and define their brand.

(17m 16s):
And parents will say to me, my kid’s not a brand. My kid is just posting to socialize, but we have to understand that whatever we post is an imprint. That’s there forever and ever more. I actually, when I was writing the book, I interviewed a hundred kids and gosh, I forgot the ages. It was like 12 to 22 or something. It’s in the book. But I asked them a series of questions. I said, do you think people form opinions of you based on what you post? And the kids said, no, I don’t think they form opinions of me based on what I post at all. I just post. And then I said, well, do you think people form opinions of you based on what you comment or like, or share? And the answer was no, I just post, I don’t think they think anything.

(17m 59s):
And then I asked the question, do you form opinions of others based on what they post comment like or share? And the answer was overwhelmingly. Yes, of course I form opinions. So a lot of this book is taking that intangible and flipping it and turning the light on and making it really easy for kids to say, oh, wait a minute. Just like I form opinions of everybody else. They’re forming opinions of me. And let me stop and take note of that and inventory. And this question of what your brand will be when you’re online really is asking kids, why are you online?

(18m 40s):
And what are you hoping to get out of it? And we’ve got to ask that question because I’ll tell you the mom who says my daughter’s just online, says she talks to her. Friends might not realize that her daughter actually wants to be seen and maybe wants to trend, and maybe has tapped into the fact that if she can dance a little differently on Tik talk and get a certain number of views, she can actually monetize that. That’s something, our kids are very much tapped into whether we realize it or not. And so starting to talk to them about, Hey, little Becky. So let’s just talk. Why, why are you online? And there’s no judgment and what are you wanting to achieve? And again, no judgment, mom and dad let’s really talk to them.

(19m 23s):
We might discover they truly do just want to socialize. Well, that’s, that’s fine. Or maybe she really is a talented dancer, singer pianist, violinist artist. She truly does need to have a larger following. She wants to be seen. There could be talent there that could be tapped into, or she just likes the attention. Whatever it might be, you will be surprised once you start this conversation, but from it, what we need to get to is all right, well, then we need to figure out as a family, we’re going to define what your fingerprint will be online because regardless of what you post today, the world has certainly taught us.

(20m 3s):
It’s going to be with you when you’re 22 and in the workplace, it’s going to be things, people search Google and pull up and bring back in your face and show you college applications, job interviews, future boyfriends, girlfriends, significant others, all of this best friends who are best friends for a lifetime, best friends who turn into enemies tomorrow. All of this is there for them to use how they want. So what is your brand and what will your digital footprint be from now forever? And it can change and it should change and grow as we change and grow. But that helps kids post consciously.

(20m 44s):
That helps them say, wait a minute, this video, it’s funny to be very honest. You know, the kid fell and knocked out a mailbox and broke his bow. It’s actually funny. Let’s be honest, privately. It’s funny, but is this the type of content I want to share? Is this, is this what I want people to say about me later is this viral challenge when I really want to participate in because destruction of property is actually illegal. You know, it gets them to maybe stop and say, I am a brand. And I don’t know if this is what I eventually want to build on those conversations. And I go through not just creating the, the, the issue, but actually giving you the 20 steps that you can talk about very easily with your family and defining what your brand will be.

(21m 35s):
And then refining what that brand will be and where the family, the family culture plays into the brand. And because I just Randi, I think these conversations are so important and our kids are, are they’re they’re in the space often times with parents that just say, I tell them to be smart, or I don’t know what they’re doing. I’m sure they’re good kids. I’m sure it’s nothing bad. Or I’m, I’m sure social media giants are watching over them somehow protecting them. And of course, none of those are real strategies for our children when it comes to the online world. You know, I think I can imagine parents hearing, referring to your child as a brand at like, in a like, oh, like cringing.

(22m 22s):
And I just want to, I want to say even using that terminology, I think is a way to really sort of see our kids’ perspective and speak to them in a language. Like, even if they’re like, I’m not a brand, but they know all these celebrities that they either secretly or not. So secretly look up to, they know they have a brand they’ve heard the terminology. And so now all of a sudden, if you’re speaking to them in a language that sort of is very relevant to them. Okay. And we kind of move past our misconceptions about, or, you know, or our biases against a word, like calling our kids a brand and we speak to them.

(23m 8s):
Remember you guys, we want to have productive conversations. We’re not going to just like, teach our kids about online safety to check something off a box, right. Yeah. Oh, okay. I did that. So I’m a good parent. I did that. So I’m a good parent. Our goal is to actually keep them safe and healthy. And, and since it is the wild, wild, wild west, we it’s like we can’t, what we know is, is we can’t be everywhere all the time. We don’t have eyes in the back of our head. We’ve all got busy lives as it is. So monitoring every single tiny thing. We have to build the foundation with impactful conversations like this, so that they have eyes wide open.

(23m 54s):
And ultimately they’re helping to protect themselves. This is a partnership. We are, co-creating the plan with them. Exactly. And I’ll tell you, I always say parents versus kids versus technology is not a fair fight. They will win almost every time. So to try to monitor everything and cat the cat, the gotcha strategy is not a strategy and it doesn’t protect them. It doesn’t raise them or build within them the tools to make the right decisions. And ultimately that’s what my goal is because we can’t catch everything. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be monitoring. We should have parent monitoring software a hundred percent.

(24m 35s):
And I talk about it. Almost every chapter of the book we need help. And we, and I don’t think kids deserve privacy in the online world. That’s another area I do not. I think we have an obligation to know their passwords and to know where they are and to have access to it. But we cannot monitor everything. We can’t see every picture they take privately in the bathroom, text a friend, and then delete. There’s no way. I mean, we can’t. So we’ve got instead to find a way to raise them with the tools on their own. And when I talk about brand, I always say like, we each have a fingerprint and real time, it’s it kind of ties us to situations.

(25m 17s):
Well, online, we have a digital fingerprint, we have a digital footprint and, and that to me can be summarized. It can be defined by what you cognitively and literally sit and think of as your brand. It’s just a way to get you to really put this in terms and say, I don’t want to be the kid that looks careless. I don’t want to be the kid that shares content that’s illegal or content that is hurtful, or that laughs at a bullying comment. I don’t want to be that kid because I’m understanding that it defines me and I don’t want to be defined that way. Well, you know, I don’t think this is that different from the conversation I have with my daughter. I remember when she was in like sixth or seventh grade and she was in middle school and she was, we were talking about if a boy liked her, if you know, and I said, and she was not going through puberty or anything like that yet.

(26m 12s):
And so, you know, we had this whole conversation where I said, you know, it’s very flattering when somebody likes you and it’s kind of fun when all of a sudden, oh, you’re the couple and you’re doing something so grown up and all the other kids are giving you all the attention. I think it’s easy to get sucked into that. I said, but I want you to check in with yourself about, is, would you just enjoy the attention if you said yes, or would you be doing it because you actually are starting to feelings for, you know, for, and she was like, I think it would just be fun for the attention, you know? And I said, well, that’s not a reason to start, you know, dating, if you can call it dating in sixth or seventh grade.

(26m 59s):
I said, because what you have to remember is, is that, is that what you do now is going to impact your reputation later. And, and, and, and when you’re finally at an age when you’re in high school or whatever, and you are starting, you’ve gone through puberty and you have all the hormonal surges and there’s this adorable boy. And you really have a crush on him and you really want to go out with him. I said, do you want that boy to say, oh cool. Every Rubenstein likes me. Yeah, we should add this friend and six. And then seventh grade, she dated this one and this and an eighth and the ninth. And I was like, or do you want to wait?

(27m 41s):
And, and, and have the other person say what Avery Rubenstein likes me. She’s gone out with anyone. Like you have to decide right now. I mean, you may be fine with, so what if I dated this one in sixth and seventh and eighth and or whatever I said, but what you do now will impact that situation later. And, and she has come back and told me, now she’s a sophomore in college. And she has come back and told me that that was a very impactful conversation because she it’s exactly the same thing here. It’s like, we’re looking at what we do now and how it’s going to impact us later and really becoming conscious about who do I want to be known as what do I want my reputation to be and doing things for a fun, little piece of attention right now that might impact me a lot more later.

(28m 40s):
That’s something to consider. It really is. And I’ve talked to so many families who will say, but as a family, we do want her to go viral. We do. And we know that there’s a path to monetize it. And, and I don’t pass judgment. Although that goes to further down, it goes to, well, you need to understand when you open yourself to that type of exposure, you’re opening yourself to a massive community. And within this, this is what you will be exposed to, and it will have effects on our children. And so we talk about it’s a strategy for every direction. I’m going to give you a strategy that consciousness, I like how you put it. I say, turning the lights on you, say it so much more professionally and eloquently.

(29m 24s):
I think it’s the piece we’re missing, but it’s the piece our kids need. If we can just bring the conversation up to a point where they say, ah, I just got that. And you packaged it in a way that I actually, it makes sense to me. And I can put that in my tool belt for a life lesson and fall back on it easily. That’s gold. That’s gold to give our kids because before, when you talked about parents who will just say, look, this is why you can’t, you know, you’re not doing this period. We’re going to start with the PS. You know, your NPS, you’re not doing this. Kids are turning you off. They’re thinking, how do I get out of this conversation? This has no value to me. I’m going to do is figure out a way to do what I want to do. Whereas instead, if we can say, I’m understanding, this is the opportunity I want to talk to you about the pros and the cons and what our strategy is for you now.

(30m 14s):
And in the future, let’s give our kids credit to walk through that conversation with us. Well, Well, let me just say this cause I’m, I just got a little bit of a light bulb moment. Okay. Number one, I think we need to remember what their online footprint and what their online relationships and presence really means for them. It’s a sense of belonging. Like this is primal, right? So it’s number one, a sense of belonging. Number two, also, I don’t even know what order these would be in is Oprah said this a million times, like in her 25 years of doing the Oprah show, every single person had two things in common.

(30m 56s):
Like, do you see me? Do you hear me? Because what I say matters, do you see me? Do I matter? Do you see me? Do I matter? And I think many of us have heard that the way to hurt someone the most is not through being their enemy. It’s through indifference and right. And so in differences, you’re not even relevant. Like I don’t, I, I’m not seeing you because you’re not even relevant. You’re just invisible. And I think it’s so painful to feel invisible. And that’s why young tweens who are just starting to get into this online world or kids that are having social media, even in elementary school, much, much younger.

(31m 39s):
You have to remember developmentally. They do not have the critical thinking skills yet. I mean, their brain’s not going to be finished developing until their mid to late twenties. They want to feel relevant. They want to feel seen. They want to feel relevant. They want to feel seen and kids, they don’t really care. Little kids don’t care. If it’s good attention of bad attention, all attention means I am relevant and I am seen. And I matter. And so, so the online world is, this is almost like it holds all these possibilities. I can feel a part of something. I belong to something. People are liking me. People are seeing me.

(32m 19s):
People are commenting people seeing me. And when we call them something like a brand and we kind of move through the cringe of that, because we’re speaking to them in a language they can understand, this is my real, real aha. We have the opportunity to impact them with like extra punch of worthiness, which is you, this is your brand. Do you understand that you are a human four-leaf Clover, there will never be another you and the world. And so why it matters to really think of this with the lights on, in your conscious brain and your thinking brain.

(33m 1s):
However you want to say it, that it’s going to get through to your child. It’s because you’re a big deal. Whether you’ve gone viral or not, you’re a big freaking deal. Your brand is you. And we have to protect that in a way that just makes sure that no one’s going to harm you or mince words about you, because you have been very thoughtful about how you’re representing your brand because, And the brand itself you are. What’s valuable. It’s not the trend. It’s not how you are responded to you yourself.

(33m 42s):
Your very presence is valuable. And I do. I think that these are such important conversations for our kids who are being raised in a completely different territory space dimension than you or I ever were. We we’ve got to be talking to them about these things. Even though, as parents, we kind of cringe, we don’t recognize it. It’s a part of their lives to us, but to them, it is their lives. It’s how they socialize. It’s how they interact. It’s how they define themselves. I love when you refer to Oprah Oprah’s comments and you know what she’s always talked about, do you see me? Do I matter? Do I value a lot of kids feel more comfortable if they can be seen online?

(34m 27s):
It means more to them than being seen at school or out in the mall or The Online value and their commodity listing is higher. It’s ranked higher than anything else. And they also feel more comfortable sharing. We were in this national thing we did yesterday. I was listening to one of the girls speak. And she said, you know, there are times I don’t, I don’t want to talk to my best friends. And even my parents, I just want to share it on my platform. And it was like, wow, you know, you want to share something so personal and so private with your followers, as opposed to having a real conversation with somebody that loves you and cares about you and is protecting you.

(35m 9s):
But that’s just how it is working with the young minds who are, as you said, they’re not developed until 25. The risk versus reward balance is completely off for them. They, they seek risk and immediate reward and immediate gratification. Well, before critical thinking is even developed in their world. And long-term consequences are even a thing in their mind. So the rules and putting it all together. It’s just one Of, again, I go back to one of the most valuable things we can give our kids and the parents were pulling their hair out, trying to navigate this space. I agree. And I think that a lot of the reason that parents put their heads in the sand and I love how you go through and dispel a lot of the myths.

(35m 55s):
And, and really you say dispel, the top seven myths parents have about the online world. For those of us who have put our heads in the sand a little bit, me included because I don’t know. It just, it felt overwhelming daunting. I was just kind of just not. It’s like I address things up to a point and then I’m just, it’s fine. I think when we go into that sort of fight or flight, the fight is, is when all of a sudden we realize our kids are addicted to technology. Their faces are on their phone constantly. They’re not engaging IRL in real life. My kids get really annoyed with me when I use they’re like, stop just, oh, you mean IRL?

(36m 43s):
They’re like, no, just no, no, no, please stop. But when we really are, we get mad at them because we’re realizing they’re never present. They want their phone with them all the time. Did you hear me? I just said that. I just asked you if you’d finished your homework three times, I just asked you to take your shoes to your room four times and you didn’t even look up. And then we’re like, that’s it enough? Give me the phone. It’s off limits for the rest of it. You know, whatever. And then it turns into world war three. We do. So we go into fight or we go into flight, which is, it’s fine.

(37m 24s):
They’re fine. I got good kids. They make choices. It’s not, you know, come on. I we’ve had those conversations. I think a lot of it is that people just don’t have the information where you very concisely give the actual information in the book you’re educating. You’re like, here are all the tools and all the resources that they’re using. And here’s some of the tricks of the trade and the way that they get around parent rules. And so here’s the Instagram, but then here’s their Finsta. Here’s the situation with their fake Instagram. And this is a thing. And so I loved how you educated me and that roadmap.

(38m 6s):
I will tell you the roadmap for the conversations, which is all the parts before the O and PS, like you provide all the parts before the PS. And that is, I think what makes a lot of people go into fight or flight because they just don’t even know how to have these conversations. So you providing that I think is really going to just help so many families to keep them safer. I appreciate it because I also recognize that a lot of parents are scared to go there. It’s a lot of, if I close my eyes, you know, I always think of little kids when they, if they close their eyes and they feel like they remove themselves from something, then it’s not real anymore.

(38m 51s):
And we as adults do it. If I don’t listen to the human trafficking and exploiting children and drugs online now, I mean, pornography, no, I’m just, I’m going to close my eyes to it because that means it doesn’t affect my children. And then all we’re doing by doing that is creating the best possible scenario for a predator or a pill pusher or a drug dealer, because you have a kid completely on his or her own dealing with these seasoned type of individuals. And I know we want to think my God, but the reality that my kid is going to be exposed to, this is so slim. Like why, why would I even fill their minds with the conversation to begin with? But that’s not true.

(39m 31s):
The online world is predominantly filled with predators and with pill pushers and drug dealers and people who want to exploit children. That’s actually what it’s predominantly filled with. And they’re looking for children. So I know there’s, You’ve seen, I mean, look as a CEO of Crimestoppers, you have educated me on a ton of things because a lot of times, look, I think many of us can come from a place of privilege. Like we don’t have to look at things if we don’t have to look at things that are difficult, right? You and I both live in Houston, Texas, which is, I mean, I’ve heard, it’s like the number one, isn’t it? The number one hub for human trafficking or It is.

(40m 15s):
And I mean, it’s also the number one area for flirting. It, because our, we have such an incredible city and so many wonderful organizations that are working to stop it. But hearing that helps you put into perspective. Like these are just different times. And the appetite for exploiting children is much higher because people make a lot of money online and you don’t have to look far to pull up stories in all of our neighborhoods of kids who have taken their own lives because they didn’t realize they were talking to older man or an older woman who was looking to exploit them. And they went ahead and sent a picture innocently or shared information on where they went to school, very innocently, and then had this person show up on campus.

(41m 0s):
I mean, these are not abnormal stories. And even if it’s one in a million, I always talk to my kids when we get on flights and we fly back and forth to Boston all the time. And every time we got on a flight, they do the safety measures. And my kids when they were little, they’d say, is this plane, is there something wrong with the plane? Like, why are they telling? And I said, no, it’s, it’s preemptive. It’s because they know not there. So safety, my nothing’s going to happen. They’re just making sure we’re super prepared in the rarest case that something will happen. And now w w they get on the plane, they go through the safety and it’s no big deal. Why can’t we do that with our own children? The most precious things in the world to us, why can’t we say, I know the chances are very slim, but the reality is the online world is filled with really bad people who, who wish really bad things.

(41m 49s):
You may see on Snapchat and opportunity to buy pills that look like Tylenol, Adderall, Percocet, Xanax. I want you to know that these are most of the time laced with deadly doses of fentanyl. And look, if you don’t believe me, here’s Sammy Chapman story. Here’s so-and-so story. Here’s this boy story. This girl story. I could pull a hundred thousand stories right now and show kids by going to the Facebook page for parents, just like us who have lost children to a 15 cent pill, they bought on Snapchat thinking it really was Tylenol, Percocet, Adderall, Xanax, not thinking anything beyond that.

(42m 30s):
And I love you, and I don’t want you to ever fall prey to that. So I just want you to know, I want you to be equipped, and there’s so many examples, but I lumped them all into small little buckets to make it really easy to equip our parents and the kids. Well, let me tell you something in our conversation last night with my son, I told, I told Dr. Laura Berman that Sammy, Sammy, it was her son. I told his story, you know, so tragic. She lost her son Al and honor student and athlete, like for coming from a great family.

(43m 10s):
And I shared very relevant. My son turning 16, her son was 16, great kid, good family. I told my son that story. And I know he hadn’t heard a story like that before. So even your examples, like you give the roadmap, but then these examples were, I mean, I was pulling those out of my back pocket last night with my own kid. And that was what was really impacting him. And I would love to read Lindsey’s story if we have time. Is that, does that, is that okay with You? Oh yeah, of course. Yes. Okay.

(43m 49s):
This really impacted me. And so I want to share it with the listeners. And this was the story that I sort of gave the cliff note version to my son last night. Cause I just found it so impactful. Besides Sammy’s story, a friend, isn’t always a friend. Lindsay is an incredible family. Her dad’s an executive and her mom’s a homemaker. They’re involved in their local church and live in a big, beautiful, suburban home. And the kids attend grade schools while all these things carry weight and create a loosely warranted sense of safety in the real world. It doesn’t count for much in the online world. She’s an incredible girl, beautiful, friendly kind. And good-hearted like most girls, her age she’s active on social media. Snapchat was the platform where she would be noticed and targeted.

(44m 31s):
He was older, a known human trafficker to law enforcement, but completely unknown to innocent girls. Online, offline, some would call him a pimp, but to her, he was just another connection follower and online friend. The truth is he had noticed her months earlier targeted her and took his time to get to her. Lindsey’s beautiful. Parents were in the habit of actively monitoring their children more as a matter of principle than anything else, they weren’t aware of any real dangers. They check their phones, had their passwords, had GPS on their cars and FaceTime them often when they were out. But none of that was a match for the online predator to which this team had unknowingly opened a door on the evening of April 30th.

(45m 12s):
She told her parents, she was going to the gym while there she learned of a party via social media. She decided to have a friend pick her up from the gym and take her to the party. She would leave her car and phone. Her parents tracked behind when curfew approached, she found herself eager to head back to the gym so she could make it home in time. But none of her friends were willing to take her back. Like most teens, she turned to her online world. She borrowed a friend’s phone and logged into her Snapchat account and asked, is there anyone in the area who can take me to my car? He replied sure. On my way, finally, he would get his prey. He picked her up from the party, but he did not take her back to the gym. As evening turned the morning, Lindsey’s parents began their desperate search to find her the trafficking abuse she endured in the days that followed is simply too difficult to describe.

(45m 58s):
Thanks to the work of her family and law enforcement. Lindsay was found weeks later, she had been drugged, branded and raped more times than one could imagine. She would never be the same. Her story was so painful yet. Sadly not totally uncommon. Forever stands as a reminder that the online world harbors people whose lives and motives are so unfathomably different from our own and who have connected with our children for reasons to grave to understand It still gives me chills. It still gives me chills. Like it could move me to tears, even though I’ve known the story for so long and had the privilege of working with her parents for so long, but a predator’s greatest gift is a child who just doesn’t know any different and we can not have, I don’t care if it’s the rarest thing in the world.

(46m 49s):
And if Lindsay’s story is one in a million or one in 10,000 or one in a hundred, I don’t care. It can’t happen to anyone again ever. It just came Lindsey’s. Parents could have been me. Lindsay could have been my, one of my kids. I mean, I was like, they sounded like good parents. I mean, Parents, Right? These online predators are they’re professionals, right? Is their business. And I’ll tell you, when you sit with Dr. Berman and Sam Chapman, who now share Sammy’s story, where you sit with Lindsay’s family, they make this their mission now because they say there, we were pre event and here we are post event and pre event.

(47m 35s):
We thought we were doing everything right. You know, don’t, don’t do anything bad online and be careful, but we never imagined ever we’re good families. Like we never even imagined and nexus with this type of evilness or crime or whatever word you want. We never even imagined it had its way in our lives. And now we’ve lost. Sammy’s gone. And you know, Lindsay is not gone and she’s thriving in her, in her new life and doing as best she can. But their mission is to make sure every parent is aware of what lurks beyond the clicks and the likes and the connections, because maybe we don’t know, but had Sammy been made aware that the Snapchat, the pill pushers, a lot of these pills with relays, with fentanyl, maybe he wouldn’t have chosen the 15 cent pill that he chose and that was sent to his house.

(48m 33s):
Cause Sammy’s not a drug user. He’s a good kid. If Lindsay had been made aware of that, predators, people we don’t know online could have really evil intention. Maybe she would say guys, no matter what I can’t, obviously can’t go on Snapchat to get a ride home. Can one of you please take me home or call Uber or do something or call her parents and say, I messed up. I came to this party, but I’m certainly, you know, if you didn’t teach me better, I would’ve gone on Snapchat to get a ride, but I know I can’t do that. It’s very dangerous. Will you come get me? I mean, at least give your kids the fighting chance, give them that. So they know The conversation of instilling the worthiness.

(49m 14s):
Like what is your online footprint and posts like a celebrity, be conscious about these things because you matter your reputation matters. Like you’re a big deal and I know maybe you want to go viral or you want, but what I want you to remember is even if you’ve only got two followers or $3 or whatever, you are a big deal and you matter. And so we have to really be thoughtful about these things. And that’s why when you’re accepting a friend request or making sure that you never post the GPS tracker, allowing your whereabouts to be known on social media, you are really looking out for yourself and reminding yourself constantly that you deserve to be looked out for.

(50m 4s):
You’re a big deal. You are a big deal. And so I think these conversations ultimately, and parents being properly educated and willing to lead these conversations and having the right tools to do it, I think this is going to save and change lives well. So you’ve put a very important piece of work out into the world. And I just want to thank you. Thank you. Thank you. That is my biggest prayer. It truly was a labor of love for my kids and yours. And I kept saying, there’s that one book that everyone goes to when they’re pregnant, what to expect when you’re expecting, if this could be a one book that everybody goes to raising children as a continual resource, I’ll go back to it.

(50m 45s):
Let me go back and think and read. And I would be so happy because if it could save one life, it means the world. So, and to talk about it with you, Randy is like I’m pinching my Hair at the Best, So wonderful. Okay. So tell people I will post everything. You guys, don’t worry. I’ll post everything in the show notes so that you can order the book. You can follow Runyon, everything I’m on all the social channels, but if you wanted to just leave people with a specific call to action or how they can learn more, what would that be? Do you want to leave the listeners? Yeah. I mean, you can learn more about the book by going to The Online World and I’m happy I’m actually hitting the road.

(51m 32s):
So if you have schools or groups of kids or parents that would like to have me come and talk about it and go through it, I’m, I’m happy to do it. I’m spending my evenings doing this recently. And my only hope is to be a resource and to help. And so any opportunity to do that, I appreciate you can follow me at the Rania report. And I really, I just thank you guys for the time and the interest and the dedication to keeping our kids safe together online. You’re amazing. Okay. Thank you so fun to connect and good luck with everything. Thanks for listening today, guys. I hope you picked up some tips tools, maybe some baby steps for creating more balance and boundaries in your life.

(52m 18s):
And I just wanted to let you know if you want to continue moving the needle forward in creating this for yourself, having a happier household. I want you to go to my website and check out Mastermind, Parenting dot com. We have three beginning programs, and if he needs some accountability and more support, then please look for the one that would be a good fit for you. And as always, we’re on all the social channels under Mastermind Parenting on Instagram, it’s mastermind, underscore parenting, and you know, periodically I do pop up on different Instagram lives, Facebook lives, where I give you teaching and coaching.

(53m 0s):
And I love engaging with you live to help you help your strong-willed kids so that they can feel better because when they feel better, they do better. And I love, love, love, getting to know you guys. So thanks for listening. If you liked this podcast, please don’t forget to subscribe, rate and review super, super appreciative.

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Creating A Happier Household

by Randi Rubenstein