#54 - Sandra Dodd | Unschooling thoughts on gaming, YouTube and the internet

e54 Sandra Dodd

🗓️ Recorded January 17th, 2024. 📍Playa Dorada, Lengüeta Arenosa, Baja California, Mexico

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About this Episode 

Where do you stand on gaming, YouTube, and the internet? It is a difficult subject. So many thoughts and strategies.

Together with Sandra Dodd, we explore the complexities of the digital age with an open mind. We hope this episode will help you redefine parental boundaries, encourage independent thinking, and cultivate a relationship with technology that allows your children to thrive.

Episode links:

Links for articles and thoughts on the internet, unschooling, and videogames

Watch the full interview on YouTube

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With love


Jesper Conrad 


00:00 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
Welcome to Self-Directed. We are your hosts, cecilia and Jesper Conrad, and now it's time to welcome this week's guest.

00:10 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Can you do the intro as always.

00:12 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
Yes, we're too good.

00:13 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Do we need to introduce that?

00:15 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
Yeah, we will introduce. This is Sandra Rott. We find her wonderful and we love talking with her. So here we are again. Hi, sandra.

00:25 - Sandra Dodd (Guest)
Hello, thanks for having me again. It was fun. It's always fun.

00:29 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
And I just started the recording so because you were about to say something wonderful. So if you just start where you were before I hit record please.

00:41 - Sandra Dodd (Guest)
We were. I had said we should talk about games and YouTube before we get to the good stuff which is healing in the parents. So I know that people always say, well, it was different when your kids were young. They they brush me off that way because the world was different. We had dial up internet or whatever. Okay, well, I was in schooling before we had dial up internet too. Just a little bit. You know, before before there was anything for kids online.

But if people are going to live by rules, it's easy. You just, you know, kind of figure out what your friends are doing and you make rules about it. You have to go to bed by this time, you have to do this, you have to do that and that's the rules. Just don't ask questions. I'm the parent, I make the rules. It is very easy for parents to be approved and praised and to make friends by being very controlling and bragging about it. And you may have been in conversations where the parents are just bragging like crazy about how they make their kids do this and that and their kids would never do this and that. So I don't think that ever has contributed well to anyone's unschooling and one of the things that I brought into unschooling from another. Another hobby I had, where we talked a lot of philosophy was to make decisions by principle, like why don't think about what you're going to do, I'm doing this because that's what we do, but why? Why are you doing that? And so if limiting children is being done because it seems traditional or it seems virtuous, or it seems safe or it makes a person a good parent, that's not a why that leads to a good relationship between the parents and the children or to a partnership between the parents and the children. So I just think, regardless of what the it is, whether it's video games or internet, paying attention to what the children are interested in and want to do and could learn from and are drawn toward is more important Then worrying about what other parents think about you letting them do that, and I think that must have been true for unschoolers. Before there was internet, there were a few unschoolers who were just exchanging letters with John Holt and they didn't have all the tricks and tools that have been developed over the years and I don't know that any of them could have unschooled their children throughout, from childhood through teens, through being adults. But that's been done now by quite a few people.

We have an example in the United States that other places might not have as strongly, and that's the very strict fundamentalist Christianity. It's mostly in the southeastern United States and I grew up in families that were not actively. My parents didn't actively go to church. I did there's voluntarily because there was music there. I went everywhere the music and they'd let me sing or whatever, and so I went to church because I liked to be somewhere besides my house and that was a good place to be and I liked a lot of people there and I didn't like all of them.

But the thing is, in the families who so easily said no, no, no to their children all day, those are the kids who, when they got older, became very sneaky and running around and drinking. And you know they said never say bad words. And I went, what the hell you know because. But those kids, when they got away from home, were nasty mouth, drinking, awful, and so that was. That had nothing to do with electronics or video games, but I saw that pattern early and the parents who said I don't know. Well, try it, you know. Yeah, you can drink in the backyard, don't? You know? Don't tell the neighbors I let you. Those kids got their experience young and didn't go crazy when they went to college or whatever. So I knew that. So I knew that if I told my kids, no, don't even touch it, don't look at it, don't think about it, that's the way to make them think about it, like I think surely the only people who would, other than biology students or anthropologists, the only people who would really read Darwin, would be kids who were told evolution is of the devil and you know the world was created in six days and you know if you, if you think or say anything different, you could burn forever. Those kids are more likely to read Darwin than my kids. Because it was forbidden, it was a secret.

My kids played video games from the time they were really little and when my when my husband and I didn't know whether to encourage it or not, we my son, whose oldest was five, and he really loved Ninja Turtles, and so we watched an episode of Ninja Turtles in a critical way, like as parents. Right, that was before we knew we were going to school, I think maybe he was four, and so we watched it and we watched it and we're kind of laughing, and he said this is Japanese management theory, because that work, he was an engineer and they were. They were teaching them all sorts of different corporate models for communication and management and stuff. And so he's like, ok, there's one leader and four people with different skills. And so we're like, ok, that's. That's kind of cool.

Even to this day you can ask someone who was born in the eighties so which Ninja Turtle are you most like? It's like a therapeutic question. Yeah, the answer they give you. You know a lot about how they see themselves and how they would like to see themselves. And you know, at one time in history they would have said you know who's your favorite saint? Or you know? So what of fairy tale characters, which one do you most identify with? But it works with Ninja Turtles and young men. So we didn't discourage that.

And then Nintendo came along with a Ninja Turtle fighting game and we got him one. We got him one because he was. We were in a babysitting co-op where the parents would take turns and we'd keep points, and so there was a family where he went that had a Nintendo game, but they kept it in the closet. But when Kirby came over they would bring it out and let him play and then got to where he would only play that he loved it so much he wouldn't play with the other kids. So I would show up and he would look up and say I want to play with Chris and Liam. But because the game was there, it was so alluring that he couldn't look away. So I know a lot of parents would have said, see, he's an addict, take it away from him. No one should like anything that much. And I thought he loves it. There's something about that game that engages him completely. And so what we did so that he could play with Chris and Liam was we bought one. So, yeah, when he had one at home and he could play it all he wanted to. Then when he went to Chris and Liam's, he didn't want to play the game, he wanted to play with them. So I got to see that even before I was really in schooling and I said, ok, this is, this is important.

Those same kids weren't allowed to watch TV at their house, and when they came to our house, if it was on, we would remember to turn it off after a while, before they came in, because if they came in they would just no matter what was on. They would just be mesmerized and they would stand and look at it. They wouldn't, they couldn't pass by it. And the kids are like, let's go play, let's go in the backyard, let's do this. And they couldn't even hear them. So Things like that In the discussions in those days.

I would, I would say all this thing happened, what do you guys think? And other people would report similar things. So we were collecting data Without it being a study, just evidence for other people who came by later. And that's all still on my side. So the people who were saying, well, no, I think it's addictive. I think it's that very wise people like Joyce Federle and Deb Lewis would write up what they thought was or was not addiction and what is fascination and hobby and the burning interest that someone has in Flowers or knitting or rescuing wounded animals. That's not called addiction.

08:36 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
And, but that's also on the parent approved list, right?

08:42 - Sandra Dodd (Guest)
Yes, so I just decided not to worry about what other parents said. And you just look at my kids and it turned out well and two of my kids learned to read from that, from watching video games, because there's reading involved there. And the other day in a discussion someone was saying an unskilling discussion how do you get your kids to read? And when people first come to the, at that idea and that question, they're thinking books, reading equals books, and think about menus and street signs and video games and the instructions for board games and all the things we're reading is where you really need reading the internet To know which thing to click them.

I have, I have four little grandkids who can't read yet and so they're all like grandma which one, grandma which one, because it's like next or stop or you know hard or easy. And once they can read those which won't be too long, that's real reading, because it's reading for a purpose. It's actually interpreting language for an actual need not to do a monkey trick for a teacher. So I wasn't afraid of it and it didn't prove to be scary and because they knew they could play it later, they would Turn it off if somebody needed them to. Also, I wouldn't be rude about it If I came and turned a game off on someone which I never did and never would have. It would be like if somebody grabbed a novel out of your hands and threw it in the fireplace, without regard to whether you were even at the end of a paragraph.

10:12 - Jesper Conrad (Host)

10:12 - Sandra Dodd (Guest)
It's really relationship killing. And then if you put timers on games, they would say you can play for an hour and they would put a timer on it so that it turned itself off like that, no matter where in the game they were. And I just thought that was cool because I've played games. I've worked jigsaw puzzles. I wouldn't have liked somebody to throw the puzzle in the trash and I was almost through or had just even sorted out the border. You know, when someone's involved in a project and there's progress being made and there's a success level, other people should stay out of it and not if they can help help and if they can't help stay out of it. That's my opinion about games and the meanness that can go with it and the disadvantage of limiting it. I mean I have more opinion, but that's that's one closure point.

10:58 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
I think, of course I agree. I think you're smart, so I tend to agree, but I do agree All the things that we forbid. They become more interesting. And what's the difference between between being very excited about a video game and being very excited about drawing cats? It's being very excited about something. I think we should really stop ourselves from judging what our kids do, but I do, at the same time, think that something has changed and even being an unschooler.

I still sometimes worry, I still sometimes Well you need to get over that, because I'm not sure. I mean, maybe I do need to protect my children a little bit from the big bad internet.

11:48 - Sandra Dodd (Guest)
I'm happy when they play a game. Play the games before you say this game isn't worth, isn't worth time I don't have a problem with the games.

11:56 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
It's actually not the games Okay.

11:59 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Now what I am worried about, what I don't like still and still need to get over but also find a way where I feel my kids are in an environment that is okay is the voice chat, the anonymity Anonymous and anonymous and they can say whatever and get away with it. They can be really mean. Some games have very mean discourse. Some games are so loving and people are so nice to each other it seems like it's cultural inside games.

12:40 - Sandra Dodd (Guest)
That's true. But you never know. An individual can come along in a most peaceful situation and be a dick. So it's it's. You can't. It can't be controlled or guaranteed. No, you can't be in a place where somebody won't be hateful. So this is what I think about situations like that you can't world proof, you can't child proof.

12:59 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
The world, no you need to pay attention.

That was what I think it's, that one of the key things you said before is pay attention to what they do and, and you know, maybe try to watch an episode or play the game, you can get attention.

But I find it harder for me personally to pay attention to what they do online and what they experience online, because I don't know, it's just a big bad wolf out there and and I think some of it is really more big bad wolf than what I am comfortable with letting my children. I do let them, so let's just start there. I personally do let them and we don't have a screen time measurement or child safety things on the it's, but I I'm just not necessarily happy with it and I think a lot of unschooling parents they, you know, we didn't grow up with this, we don't know what it is and it's very hard to. I can see what they do and I can feel the vibe of it with most of the things they do, except for when they are online. Then they have their phones on and they have their little chats and lots of things happen and then maybe three months later I they need to talk about something and I'm like hmm, hmm.

14:27 - Sandra Dodd (Guest)
Okay, what if they went to school, though?

14:29 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
they would be spending in places where it's one of the reasons they don't, because I don't want them out there.

14:36 - Sandra Dodd (Guest)
Oh, I didn't know they were, that we're not going to school because you were afraid. The stop I'm saying is, of all of the humans in the world families where the kids go to school they spend lots of hours where you don't know what people are saying and how they're being and whether they're honest or kind, and so parents are used to that. So if the internet provides that opportunity for them to be in a place where you're not watching their every move and knowing everyone they're interacting with, that situation is not abnormal, it's an. Unschoolers shouldn't protect their children from all access to the earth. They shouldn't always be holding their mom's hand. They can't, but also probably shouldn't.

Oh, when my kids were little, those opportunities came from from the gatherings of families, you know, and unschoolers in those days would always have part days and get together in public and like that because we're going off. Parents were near, but they weren't right right there with them. But I think if you're letting your kids do that, they have access to those things but you're still afraid. Maybe it would help philosophically to realize that those fears have always been around and if you go back far enough, you come to the time where the kids were not with their parents after they were 10 or 12. They were off working on farms or whatever, being in the freaking military at the age of 14 or terrible historical things that we think are terrible. You know that they saw as normal. But when in our own grandparents, great grandparents, stories, it's like, oh, what's going to happen with the radio? Do we let our kids listen to radio shows? Oh, my gosh, you know they're talking about murder on those radio shows. And then TV comes along. It's like, oh, we're going to let our kids watch that TV and see the news and see wars in other countries. That's terrible and it wasn't interactive. That's true. They weren't able to lure someone to tell them particularly something. But I think it's if the principles are there that it's good to be kind, it's good to be helpful. If you don't have to be around people who are mean, you can avoid people who are not being kind and generous and honest. Then you give them an invitation to come and tell you if they've seen things like that that are bothering them. It might not bother them, they might go. Okay, this guy is not very nice, but he sure knows a lot about this game where this guy is not very honest, but I'll just assume that what he says isn't true. But he's fun to play the game with and adults make choices like that.

You probably have friends from childhood that you know all of their, all of the dumb things they've done and all the idiot things they've done, and maybe maybe you don't I do. I have some friends who aren't particularly honest but their stories are entertaining. I just remember not to repeat them as something that actually happened, but as an entertainment. I think kids having practice with that as kids is valuable so that they don't encounter it for the first time when they're grown and there's money involved or alcohol involved or other things. So I I know, I know it's scary and my grandkids are online and there are things out there philosophies and proposals to come and join our this or that belief or cult or weirdness, but I think that's always going on, at least at school or church. You know on the side there'll be some subgroup subset that if you were, you were welcome to ask more and to be more involved, and some of those were dangerous and illegal and stupid and some were kind of cool. So it may be good practice at a distance where your kids to practice interacting with people who aren't actually at your house, who aren't pulling up in a car and beeping for them to come out. They're just voices at a distance. And if home is safe, why would they want to be closer with those people than with their family? And that's that was.

When I was a kid, the the big argument was don't go to the bowling alley, don't go out with anybody at night, don't. So it was like a bunch of rules. Don't go in the barn with the neighbor. I'm like why? I didn't know why, what, what might happen in the barn with the neighbor? And so if the principal had been, be where other people know where you are. Don't trust everyone. Try not to be alone with someone you don't really know very well. Don't keep secrets with other people. You know those ideas about the danger of secrecy, the danger of being isolated and not having a witness, not having other people. That will help more than rules about what to do and where to be, I think, is understanding why parents worry about who you're with and what they might do.

19:26 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
I believe that one of the joys that had come with this life of unscouting our children is the connection that we have with them, and Cecilia's connection is stronger than mine. She is the, their primary person and and the what I see is that they the connection is so strong that they share what they have experienced and they share their sadness if something happened, went bad or not, and that is a gift that she come with unschooling, where I don't. When I look back at my own life, I didn't share so much with my parents in the same way, the connection was not as strong. So so I yesterday's things out there. There is YouTube that now have you down to 50 seconds, 15 seconds videos just going past your head and it is stressful, but it's. The world is there and I think that by them experiencing it and talking with us about it, they learn to, to be in it and have the connection where they can grow actually.

20:51 - Sandra Dodd (Guest)
I've seen some kids and I've had some friends and relatives who would not tell their parents their problems, because if they said my friend was mean to me, to the parents, and you can never play with that friend again, ever. You know no advice about let's, can you fix it? Can you decide what the value is, or the or the disadvantage, they just say no and so they would just see it as a way for their parents say, well, they never go on the internet again or never play that game again, because it's easier for the parents to just the parents think they fixed it, but they haven't really fixed it, because all they've done is create another closed door for their children to try to sneak through or get through, or or for the kids to learn to not tell their parents. So, yeah, that's a, that's a problem. That's why. That's why you might not have talked to your parents and just had a guess that may not have anything to do with it.

21:44 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
One of the challenges or dialogues we have had with our youngest is about this it's a wonderful game, fortnight. There is so much fun in it. He's very happy about it. But the adrenaline level you're driving at by playing it it's like a sniper game where you're sniping each other that's basically what fortnight is and you're 100 people going into an all out battle and there's one winner kind of game being in a game like that for 20 minutes.

When you then go offline, you reality is a little. It's not as fun and it takes time to come down for that adrenaline rush you are on. And one of the things I'm talking with him about sometimes is yep, but you need to learn to handle coming down because it is. It looks so I cannot play it. I get dizzy with these first person shooter games, but it looks like a game that is really, really funny and they have a lot of joy with it. But you can also see that they are hyped up on a level that would take some knowledge to go go out in. And I was about to say real life after that. But gaming is also real life.

23:05 - Sandra Dodd (Guest)
It's like adrenaline, especially boys kids. My age was skateboards and making homemade ramps and jumping bicycles off of them.

23:13 - Jesper Conrad (Host)

23:14 - Sandra Dodd (Guest)
Oh, you know not where I live, but other people swinging on a big rope and falling in water, that's that's more dangerous than sitting on a couch playing a video game, that's for sure. So when people go, this game is so violent, this game is so terrible for him he gets so excited. Like where was he sitting on something soft? Right at your house? Right, you could see him. You can hand him a sandwich. It's not like the danger of you know, take a gun out in the woods and try to kill rabbits where other people are also out in the woods trying to kill rabbits with guns. You know, it's just if there are so many dangerous things that boys have done in the past that didn't involve on their mom's couch, that I that I just have a hard time not laughing. Sometimes, when people are going, that game is so violent. Show me the bruises. Did he get stabbed? Is he bleeding? We sitting on the couch, he's not violent.

It's like reading a spy novel. When people read spy novels and and you know bad guys are chasing somebody through, you know bruise or wherever it always is, you know it's always in some European town with little roads and you know they're. They're going to get you and then they're going to torture you and it's like, okay, nobody was actually tortured reading that book, unless they hated the book, and they can close the book. Save. Save, any kid who's to to upset by a game can turn it off. It's like closing a book, only a really cool book with pictures that you can affect. It's like choose your own adventure by the second and and that's that's very cool.

So people who understand how fun it is to read even you know Harry Potter here comes well the mark. Oh, that's terrible. That's going to give you some adrenaline if you're involved in that, and so first time you read it especially, that's exciting. But it's also a book. It's not. They're not actually Harry Potter facing well the mark, but you can. It's like riding a roller coaster. You can get the thrill of fear and not knowing what's going to happen. You know sort of that. That's sort of adrenaline like Fight or flight. I don't know if I don't know if it's a tiger or not, maybe nothing, maybe nothing, I'm about to save my own life and that that adrenaline, in the absence of a tiger, can be fun, can be entertaining. People pay money for it to bungee jump or whatever. So I don't think that that's A crime or aberrant behavior To want to be excited.

25:38 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
I don't think there's anything wrong with being excited and I do like I don't have a problem with our kids playing computer games as such. My problem is with More like it's very easy. It's a very easy thing, it's easy access. You just sit down and turn it on and then it's fun. I you don't need for these things a lot of patience and I mean I'm I'm letting go as much as I can, but I wouldn't. I wouldn't be comfortable if it was an all night thing, which I see a lot of in in the radical on schooling Community, that the boys, they stay up all night playing, and I don't quote unquote allow that. I think we sleep at night, we sleep at the same hours, we are awake when the sun is out and playing for 12 hours a day would make me very uncomfortable. I think they would will benefit from having other go-tos and if my children came down to having only one go-to I will eat, sleep and play Then I wouldn't be comfortable with that.

26:58 - Sandra Dodd (Guest)
Is that what unschooling is about?

27:00 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
I don't know but at the end of the day, I will end up. So I'm having this conversation with you because I think I'm not probably not the only one thinking this way, and I would say I'm an unschooling mom, but it's not a religion to me. If I feel, no, this is not right, then it might be unschooling, but I'm not doing it.

27:23 - Sandra Dodd (Guest)
You think it's a religion for me what you think it's a religion for me.

27:27 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
No, I don't, no, I don't, I don't at all.

27:31 - Sandra Dodd (Guest)
I think the principles, the principles. If you go by principles instead of rules, it changes everything. So if you're having your kids go to sleep when you sleep because you're traveling and you wanna get up and do something, you have a tight schedule, you have places to go, oh, that makes sense. It's like you're living on vacation in a way, because they don't have a calm, safe place where they could just sleep for a week if they really needed to, if they felt like they didn't feel good and wanted to just stay in their bed. Can't do that when you're not home. No, if you were in a situation where the child was home, my oldest used to stay up all night playing games sometimes or communicating with friends online, mostly on schoolers that were in other towns, and I knew that sometimes he was still awake at five in the morning and I just used to tell him just be asleep before your dad goes to work, because I thought his dad was gonna get mad at us on. Then one day Keith called me from work and said Kirby was still up at five in the morning, he was playing video games or whatever, and I said yeah, and he goes. I didn't know he did that. That was kind of cool. He seemed like in a good mood, whatever. My husband wasn't upset about it so I just said, okay, do whatever, but that kid had a job too and he came home at midnight. So when he came home at midnight he worked at a gaming store. So he would sleep till noon or one.

Some days. If it was Saturday he had to go in early to run the Pokemon tournament. But if it wasn't one of those days he'd sleep late and then go to work, and sometimes till 11 or midnight. They would play Magic, the Gathering and things. Over there they sold those cards, but at night I had table games and he would come home awake because on other people's schedule, like he woke up and he went to work and now he's got some jobs. Yeah, and I didn't mind that his schedule rolled around like that, but we weren't all having to do everything at the same time. He still did everything else. He was supposed to do him into work. He went to his karate classes, so he worked around it himself and I thought that was a valuable skill. He has had jobs that started all around the clock 4.30 in the morning, started 11 at night. He worked for a graveyard shift when he worked at Blizzard Entertainment and he has never had a problem getting up and doing what he needed to do, but he wasn't on the list after he was little.

29:42 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
My hesitation is probably not so much about the day or night thing. I think it's more about the prior rotation, like I think it's important that we get to share some hours of the day and, as you say, we live in this rather quality, different way where it just wouldn't work. Very often we share one bedroom and we need to get some sleep. It's better to coordinate it. So there are many contextual reasons for the sleep thing. But what I do worry about and maybe I can learn to let go of that but what I do worry about is will it absorb? Will it be more interesting than looking out on the dolphins in the ocean?

30:27 - Sandra Dodd (Guest)
If it is, if that can be just more interesting and looking out at the dolphins in the ocean, then that child should absolutely play that game. The reason that they close curtains on schools or paint the windows or put kids art all over the windows is what if a person walking by on the sidewalk or a car going by or a bird in a tree is more interesting than what the teacher is saying? So they eliminate that option and very often it would have been more interesting and if so, maybe that's what the kid should be looking. So that's my belief is that if what you're thinking about is balance, it is, you can't balance someone else, you can only balance your own self. If you think about really a board on a roller or skateboarder standing up in a bus or a plane, you can't balance another person and they can't learn to balance if somebody else always thought they were balancing them. So it just in general, philosophically, that's what I think about other people making decisions for what's more interesting or what should be more interesting.

I think it could be a problem long-term. I think you're very right. When we've gone on vacation, there have been times like we all have to go to sleep because we all have to get up at six, but those were exceptions. It wasn't being at our own house. That may be a factor that makes a big difference. And if you're saying, oh, I limit my kids, I totally tell them when to sleep and that dolphins are more interesting than video games, then other people who listen to this are going to think, oh, then it's okay, they're on schoolers and they limit their kids and it's just, it's great, it's good for me to do, and I think that's about rules and it's not about principles.

32:21 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
It's not about what.

32:22 - Jesper Conrad (Host)

32:23 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Yeah. So for the record, if anyone feels they want to be inspired by me and think I'm an unspoken, I don't tell my kids when to go to bed. I actually don't. We go to bed when we're tired, and that's usually the same time of the day. I tell them if they want to stay up one or two of them later than everyone else, and we share one bedroom. I ask them to be quiet when they come. I don't tell them dolphins are more interesting than video games, but I do sometimes.

I'm just trying to be honest here because I think this is a struggle that other unschoolers do have and we try to find our way, and sometimes I do get worried, which is kind of stupid, because my data contradicts my worries. My kids do get up to look at dolphins if there are dolphins around, unless it's very peak moment in what they're doing, where I wouldn't get up either myself if I had a peak moment in another project. So it's not that these things are actually happening. It's just that because this is such an unknown territory for me, something that is different from what I understand the flesh and bone of I tend to, my head spins around these things. I tend to think should I? How do I what? And I mean even with all the freedom that I am doing my very best to provide for my children.

As to whatever you want to eat, whenever you want to sleep, whatever you want to watch, whatever you want to do, I'll try to give you the computer you need or the ball you need, or the supplies you need, and the time and the space and whatever. It is still me and my husband and well, all of us as a group negotiating. Are we buying another computer now, or are we buying plane tickets to get to whatever place? We don't have infinite hours, we don't have infinite money, we don't have infinite energy. Do I sit down and study whatever history of whatever country with one child, or do I sit down and do an arts and crafts workshop with another child? I have to decide that as well. Do I sit down and learn to play Fortnite, which is not interesting for me, but maybe that's what I need to learn?

34:51 - Sandra Dodd (Guest)
Well, I wasn't saying you need to learn it. I was saying if a person hasn't played a game, then they don't really have a basis for having an opinion about it.

34:59 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
I have actually played it.

35:01 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
Yeah, you came six.

35:03 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
I came in number six.

35:04 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
That was sad A lot of help.

35:08 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
I did on a hundred.

35:10 - Sandra Dodd (Guest)

35:10 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Okay, that's six out of six, my strategy was to hide, and I got shot the first time I came home.

35:18 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
I didn't have no kills, right, I had no kills, but I was.

35:22 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Six. Yeah, yeah, you can't take that away from me.

35:26 - Sandra Dodd (Guest)
Well, two of my kids have jobs that seem to have been enhanced by their ability to play video games or didn't hurt. And another thing about games is it's not just like doing a jigsaw puzzle at all, because there's also time and speed and all these things that a lot of games other traditional table games, games made out of cardboard and paper can't possibly have. And there are strategies, especially of the first person games not necessarily first person shooters, but game where it's you interacting with other characters in the game. It's got the aspects of a novel and it's got the aspects of a movie and it's got the aspects of a puzzle. You need to get from here to here how there are. These. People will come and give you clues. It's like a what are they? What's the new thing? Escape rooms. It's like yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

36:19 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
But you're still on the couch, yeah.

36:21 - Sandra Dodd (Guest)
Some room where strangers have touched everything. You know some people are still germphobic these days and I don't blame them, so it's another safety issue. You get all the excitement of a bungee jumping or escape rooms without having to leave the couch if you want. Your mom will know.

36:38 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
Hi, sandra, I work. My line of work is marketing, which is fun in the way that I. If you look at gaming, for example, I the more I think about it and in this conversation I'm like it's. I actually do not have a big problem with gaming, but with the social media and YouTube and stuff like that. They are so effective time wasters and I myself can see how they affect me when I I've had stints where I was sitting watching YouTube shorts and then half an hour went by and then the fun part comes.

What I find fun is Now I started reading instead. I'm actually a little less stressed because it's another tempo, so it does something different for me. But in my value system it's better to sit and read for half an hour than to sit and watch YouTube shorts for half an hour. So it's me judging what is going on and myself, yeah, I judge myself and when I see others sit and watch YouTube shorts and like I know it's fun, but it's what do you get out of it? And that's sometimes good stuff that comes out of it, but from the marketing point of view, in my mind I'm like ooh, that's a lot of ads there selling at the same time, where games you purchase, a game you pay for the enjoyment. That is a different ballgame in my world.

38:11 - Sandra Dodd (Guest)
So watch the comedians on YouTube, the little short parts of comedians. Yeah, there aren't ads and I can just go from one comedian to the next. One night it was two hours, but I felt a couple of really cool things that I shared with somebody who would really like it and I thought, okay, I'm a big kid, I could turn that off, but that was more interesting to me than the other things that I everybody was. You know, my husband was asleep, I didn't have any place to go the next day and every once in a while a comedian I really liked would come up or when I would skip, and it was. It was nice to see best parts, best parts, little parts and people complain about. Well, I'll make your attention yeah, what's the word? Your attention span Short.

38:55 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)

38:57 - Sandra Dodd (Guest)
Who cares about long attention span? Long attention span is about listening to a teacher for 50 minutes. That's why they wanted people to have long attention spans, so that a teacher could drone on for almost an hour and people could sit there with the windows painted over and be okay.

39:12 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
Is the windows painted or one actual? Thing?

39:14 - Sandra Dodd (Guest)
Yes, in schools? Okay, I never seen that. You missed that yeah.

39:21 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Wow yeah.

39:26 - Sandra Dodd (Guest)
And, yeah, I don't think long attention span is a virtue in the world. I don't think it's a biological fact because if, in hunter-gatherer terms, you're not doing anything for a whole hour, you're walking, you're looking, you're thinking, you're finding, you're picking, you're gathering, you're storing, you know it's motion, motion, motion, a lot of little things, and I think most things are a lot of little things. So the idea of a longer attention span is sort of a. I think it's school-related. I'm not positive, but I think it's school-related. So when you go to the doctor, school-related, it's school, a school skill that they wanted to encourage when Sesame Street I don't know if you know about Sesame Street, it's an American TV show that came out in the 70s during school reform, and what it was was.

They said little kids will run into the room when there's a commercial on and they can sing those commercials. They have those commercials memorized. As soon as the commercials over, they leave the room because they don't want to watch the TV shows. They're not interested, unless they're little kids or dogs in the story, they don't care. But the commercials are interesting and engaging because they have music, colors. And so they said let's make an educational program. It was in the days of Head Start. There was a federal program in the United States to help poor kids get ahead because they weren't doing well in school. And so they said sometimes kids who are poor, whose parents aren't around, are not getting the basics, or kids who are not English as a first language are not getting the things that they need to succeed in first grade. So they said let's make a show. That's all commercials, that's all commercial length.

41:17 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
Build up like commercials yeah.

41:19 - Sandra Dodd (Guest)
It was moving. Is the wind blowing?

41:21 - Jesper Conrad (Host)

41:22 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Yeah, I think our computer is on a table and the wind is making the table move. Okay, I didn't see thick.

41:30 - Sandra Dodd (Guest)
No, I just wondered if it was okay. Okay, it's not us, it's not going to fall.

It's not going to fall. Okay, yeah. So then years passed and people complained about Sesame Street causing short attention spans. It was like it was fine, that was the purpose, to not have any story, any part of it that was longer than a couple of minutes. That's how they built it. And now it's all changed by people who had no idea about the days of little kids running into memorized commercial jingles. So that's interesting to me, that people who really cared about how kids learned and helping little kids learn designed something very elegant, award winning that caused many other shows to be created in that way. And now other people didn't get it and they said, oh, from watching Sesame Street they have such a short attention span. It's like no, because short attention span is normal. They learned a whole bunch of things from Sesame Street.

So anyway, I think that about YouTube shorts, I suppose too that maybe the commercials are the best thing. Sometimes the commercial is interesting and if children you can't tell children never watch a commercial, it's good to discuss with them why commercials are designed as they are. How are they trying to appeal to you? Because that becomes rhetoric and that's a high level of thinking to think about how something is designed to get attention and I like the idea. I think there was some I don't know Greek something about you can't cover the whole world in leather, but you can make leather shoes and so, in terms that becomes, you can't child-proof the word world, but you can world-proof your child. Yeah.

43:18 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Yeah, and also the short and long attention span. If we are in the realm of gaming, I hear my sons talk about oh, in this game we are 185 hours in and in that game we spend. Oh, this game is short, it's only 45 hours. That's a lot of time invested in one adventure. That's long attention span. It's doing something for a long time, and I think we're demonizing the media as such, like the entire computer. Sometimes they sit down for hours and read something online, or so it's more. That's where music is. I think we need both. I mean, we also need some of us need to do some of the academia. Some people like to read really long and boring, quote unquote old novels from Russia and you need to focus to do that. But I think it's not always been for everyone and some those who do like that will probably keep doing it and those who do like to do other things will do that. I don't think that one necessarily stops the other, but I do, and that's what I'm trying to say here.

Sometimes I still worry. Sometimes I'm like is this healthy? But then, as you say, you can make leather shoes. Then we have a conversation about that. I get to say I'm worried about this. How do you all feel when I do this? It makes me feel like this when you do it, what happens to you? And then maybe they find gold in the shorts or they say, yeah, it was a waste of time, I don't think I'll do it again, or whatever. So we, as you said also earlier, so much better that they get some experience with the imperfect world while they are on the couch or at least in some proximity where we can have a conversation about it, maybe while walking and looking at those dolphins or whatever. We talk about all these worldly things and the commercials and the shorts and the longs and the Russian novels, and everything comes up and gets like grinded.

That's the key of the core element of our schooling experience.

45:46 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
A hypocrite feeling I've seen in myself is that I often love to do some projects, some different kind of project, and I would love to work on my project. I would feel better if my kids did a thing that I found more valuable in my value system, while I didn't use time together with them, which is a little kind of hypocrite.

46:12 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Especially because your project is sitting with the computer on the sofa.

46:16 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
Yes, I'm sitting with the computer on the sofa working on something I find fun you find that interesting and important.

Yeah, yeah, and I feel more fine with our daughter sitting and cutting the dogs and working with them than the boys playing the computer game and I can. I have a whole speed hypocrite in the sea of it and therefore I'm fine with mentioning it because it's like, oh yes, but you're stupid, but it's fun. That the fun part of it is actually. I believe that sometimes we as parents in general not us as such would like that our kids spend time with something we had put on a list of this valuable stuff, while we do not spend time with them, and that's the hypocrite part.

47:11 - Sandra Dodd (Guest)
Oh yeah, that's a problem, but I really like that. My daughter has some of the same interests I have. That's exciting to me and I think, oh, she's a genius, Not, oh, she's wasting her time the same way I did. But other people might go oh man, she's wasting her time the same way Sandra did. You know really interested in 60s rock and roll and in language and the history of English and the little details of words and English. My daughter loves that. She sees things that I never saw in the history of words and so I. That excites me, but that excites me because I'm interested in that thing. I would still worry about stuff I still worry about. It's just, it's just silly. It's like you know the analysis of what happened and what will happen and what's my fault. It's that I think that's normal in moms.

47:53 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
But I think also, I mean we cannot balance other people, but we can look at as parents we're not neutral.

I mean we do play a significant role in their lives and the context that we give our children, the opportunities, the vibe, the nutrition, the, even the temperature in the room. There are many settings that fall back on my decisions, that will affect how they feel and I mean I can help them to balance and maybe the, the unschooling perspective or what I do as an unschooler is. I don't judge as such the activity, but I do look at the thriving or not of the child, the balance, if you want, and just ask are you sure you're happy right now with you? Know, and I don't do it while they play Fortnite or while they whatever I mean, but we do it while going for a walk. I'm like are you? It's everything good and fine? Can I help you in any way? Is there, is there anything you know you need? And in that way we do play part of the balance of our children's lives. Of course we do, that's just communication.

49:13 - Sandra Dodd (Guest)
I don't think that should be considered balancing their lives so much as just staying in communication with them, and ideally the kids will tell you if they're not. Okay, I had fears too, and people have fears, and what I did to try to still mine was to think are they learning? So if I had a tiebreaker moment, it was like, are these kids learning? And I accepted that they would learn things that I didn't think was on the top 10 things that kids should learn, and that was okay, because I knew that these kids needed to know more about computers than I had, and there were no computers when I was a kid.

And so giving them the opportunity to be on computers and all the things that computers did and developed and added as time went on, seemed like letting them live in the world that they were actually in, instead of a fantasy world of mine or a let's have nostalgia for my childhood, because I know all parents have a little bit of that or they assume that school is like it was when they were kids, and I didn't want to do that, so I consciously tried to move with them into the future instead of dragging them back into my own past.

50:22 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
A good strategy and I also very much liked. If we're sort of ending, I think the leather shoe analogy is a very good analogy. Or don't try to child prove the world, world prove the child. That's a good little sticker note to put on the fridge for whenever we worry about worry about whatever actually.

50:48 - Jesper Conrad (Host)

50:49 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)

50:50 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
So, for the people listening, we will actually just keep on talking, but we will cut this episode into two episodes, where the first part here we have enjoyed talking a lot of about the fears we can have as parents in terms of video games and YouTube and all this, and then the next episode will be about healing. So, for the people listening out there, thank you for this time, and next week we are going to talk again with Sandra Dodd, which, for us, is the same time. Bye, thank you for listening. We hope you enjoyed today's episode and if you liked them, then please share it with all your friends and family. We would also love it if you gave our podcast a review. Thanks, and if you want to support our podcast and work, then you can find us on patreoncom slash.

The Conrad family. We will continue to travel full time and if you want to tag along, then please follow us on Facebook and Instagram at the Conrad family, and you can also read more than 100 blog posts on our website, the Conrad Dodd family. Until next time, make a wonderful day, thank you.


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