Helena is a veteran podcaster with more than 8 years hosting equestrian shows on the Horse Radio Network. She recently started a city-based podcast with her husband, about Newport, Rhode Island. In addition to podcasting, Helena runs her own marketing firm, Sparkle and Boom, that offers creative services to small and mid-sized businesses. Having spent the first half of her career in corporate marketing for big software companies, Helena is no stranger to technology. And with a 13-year-old daughter, a newly blended family, and a horse farm to manage, keeping up with it all is both joyful and challenging. With a mix of practicality, compassionate parenting, and a few firm principles, managing it all in partnership with her new husband is worth the reward of a happy and healthy family.
Helena began to notice that her daughter was using technology as a means for coping with stress. When Helena began to notice that her daughter wasn’t handing in her homework she began to ask questions. Her first thought was that perhaps her daughter was stressed, being bullied, or was this a learning disability or are you too smart for the subject matter?
Helena knows that her daughter is able to articulate what is going on, and they have created a safe place for her to come to them with her problems, but once her daughter started to shut down that communication and hide it threw up some red flags and Helena started to panic.
Helena noticed that her daughter was scrolling “like a zombie” when she was on her phone. Her daughter only has Instagram, but she noticed that as her daughter was scrolling through the images, it numbs her from whatever it is that she is feeling stressed out about, and it feels good to her daughter.
Scrolling can be used as a form or meditation, and it can also reinforce the feelings that we are having. It can allow us to focus on the good or bad feelings that we are having.
Helena talks about the maturity level that you need to have if you are going to engage in whatever technology that you are using. You have to be able to say “What am I not doing because I am spending time scrolling?”
Even as adults we struggle with the idea that we have the control over our own social media, and the content that we allow ourselves to consume.
Helena decided that it was time to take away the phone, because of all the notifications from school about the missed homework. Once she took the phone away from her daughter she describes her daughter’s response as what you would experience with an alcoholic or a drug addict. The temper tantrums were horrific! Once they managed to make it passed the temper tantrums, Helena noticed something interesting. When her daughter was bored she started to sketch, write or read books. They tried to go back to the phone, but her daughter was still unable to manage this “addiction” and they needed to take the phone away again.
The struggle is how do you manage technology so that they can still do the things they need for their schooling, but it doesn’t take over their lives.
How do we give our kids the tools to handle their stress without checking out? One of the things that works in Helena’s house is self observation.. to own your part, and before you blame anybody or get angry take a look at what it is that you are doing that is attracting your circumstances.
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