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Raising Kids in the Tech World

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
July 13, 2021 2:00 am

Raising Kids in the Tech World

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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July 13, 2021 2:00 am

How can parents raise kids well in today's tech-driven world? Arlene Pellicane addresses when a kid needs a phone, what skills they need, digital Sabbaths and more.

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Watch Arlene's documentary here: https://www.happyhomeuniversity.com/film

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So my question today to you is how do you think my phone and your phone has changed our marriage? I don't think we talk as much because I've always said when your phone is in your hand, I feel like you're talking to someone else and I don't want to be rude. Yeah, we've had fights, many fights over, okay, so I'll put my phone on my leg. And then I can tell, I can hear it buzz and then I can tell that you're just dying to look at it.

And if I glance down, I'm in trouble. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Ann Wilson. And I'm Dave Wilson. And you can find us at familylifetoday.com or on our Family Life app.

This is Family Life Today. So we need help. And we have help. We have help in the studio.

Arlene Pellegane is with us today. She has written a book called Screen Kids, which is not just about kids, although it is a lot about kids. It affects marriages as well. But here's your subtitle, which I love, Five Skills Every Child Needs in a Tech-Driven World.

And we need to talk about those skills. But you're also a mom, a wife, three kids. So you're living this out in your home.

You've got a podcast called The Happy Home and a wonderful book called 31 Days to a Happy Husband. Is that what it was? Yeah, that's it.

You got it. And we've already been talking about just the effects of our screen time on our brains, on our homes, what that looks like. And that was super helpful. I mean, it's helpful because I didn't want to know it. You know, it's like I'm doing this and I don't want to know.

I was clapping and cheering when Arlene came. But then I was also super convicted because I'm guilty, too. I mean, it is fascinating to think how it affects our brain. One of the things I want to ask you about that is, can we become addicted?

Because my wife has said maybe I am. And is it like a drug? Screen time.

And Arlene, welcome to Family Life Today. It's so great to be with you. Yes, you can become addicted. And the idea, you know, of course, there's so many ways that we could talk about addiction, like what does that really mean? And so I think in a marriage, it's the kind of thing where it's taking more time than you want it to take. So let's say you want it to just be on it for an hour. And then you realize at the end of the day, oh, my goodness, I spent three hours on YouTube and watching videos.

I didn't mean to. You see that it's causing problems inside a relationship. Someone is saying, hey, you're on that too much. And then you can always try the good old detox of saying, hey, I'm going to take a digital Sabbath like a test to say that on Sunday, we know where we're driving to, so we don't need it for directions. Well, you've got your watch on. So if there's an emergency, someone could reach you and we're just going to do a test.

Can we do 24 hours without technology? Have you done that with your family? We have three kids.

Yes. How old are they? They are 16, 14 and 11.

So they're so they are in it. We have not technically done this test, which is making me think we should try it. We have hybrids of this test. So our kids are very strange because they don't have phones and they're not allowed to have social media accounts and they don't play video games. What?

What? How are these kids existing? I know. And they still live and breathe and they're not on oxygen.

They're OK. But of course, but we do have a lot of technology. So when they need a phone, they use mine or my husband's. There's a family iPad so they can grab that for school or for whatever. There are desktop computers.

There are Chromebooks from school. So, I mean, we have a lot of technology in the house, but they don't have a personal phone. OK. What is your 16 year old think about this?

Yeah. So this is really funny because my 16 year old is frugal, like he is good with money and he knows if he had a phone, he'd have to pay for it. So I have actually even asked, like, if we let you have a phone, would you get one? And he's like, probably not because of the financial, which is funny. But that's also part of learning that because for kids, for most kids, it's a freebie.

You know, it's like no risk on them. Yeah. Mom, I want a phone. I'm 10 years old and I want the best phone that's out there because you're going to buy it for me. You know, so even teaching your child, if you want that phone, you can earn that phone.

That's even a good lesson and help them. So for him, he would say, you know what, if there's a problem because I don't have my phone, I can find a workaround. So he recognizes that, that I can figure out how to take notes on this, you know, on my Chromebook.

I can grab, you know, we joke about it because we used to have to run to a pay phone if we wanted to call someone. All he has to do is say, buddy, like two feet away from him, let me use your phone to text my mom. Right. And he does it.

It's not a big deal. Is he driving? He is. He has a driver's permit. So he doesn't drive yet. And so that's a discussion that may be a dumb phone. So not a smartphone, but maybe some kind of flip phone that when he drives. What's funny is I would be more prone to say, OK, you're driving now, let's get him a phone. But my husband would say, why would you introduce a phone to a driver who's now first learning how to drive that needs a lot of attention? And now you're going to put a phone in his hand?

Like, duh, that's not a good idea. Well, was there a lot of pushback from your kids? Because I'm guessing, do any of their friends not have phones? All of their friends, save one of my son, has a guy he knows at church, I think, who still does not have a phone. In his age bracket, I think he's the only one that we know.

People make fun of him? No. And here's the deal.

And we've asked him and we've talked to him about this, you know, and he'll say no. And the same is true for my other kids. So what they have is they've grown up with this kind of DNA that we're in the matrix.

And we know that thing can addict you and can distract you and is unhealthy. So they kind of get that. You've trained them. You've taught them. But don't think we're so pure. Like, you know, on their laptops, they're watching YouTube videos, they're watching movies, you know, so they're kids.

But they kind of get it. And so for my son, he can see the benefit that because he doesn't have a phone, he's been able to be like an entrepreneur. He teaches piano lessons both online and in person. He plays the piano, so he loves doing that. He is into sports.

He loves skiing and cross country. And he's the captain of his debate team and he's captain of his Quiz Bowl team. So he's active. He's not just like sitting around like, oh, I don't have a phone. I don't have a game.

I don't have a life. Like he has a lot of marketable skills. So he's very confident. So I think if your kids have some kind of competence, so they're good at something, even if they don't have a phone, they're finding that achievement somewhere else and they don't feel like, oh, I'm such a loser. I don't have a phone. I remember when he was in sixth grade, I wrote this little article about how he didn't have an iPad or a phone or anything in his backpack. And his friends after sixth grade summer had said, how do you survive the summer without playing video games?

Like, how do you do that? And he said to me, Mom, these kids don't even know who Winston Churchill is. At that moment, he was really into World War Two and he was reading all these World War Two books. He said, Mom, they don't know how to play the piano.

They don't know how to do jujitsu. You know, all these different things he had been learning in the summer. So he has seen it as, Mom, they are missing a lot of things that I know how to do. So for him, I think that's given him a confidence to be like, yeah, I'm different. And he'll say, people just kind of are more curious about it.

Like, how do you do that? Yeah. But they're not mean. And he says basically the people who would be mean about it are not the kind of people you'd want to be friends with. And the kind of people who are like, OK, that's your thing, bro.

That's fine. Those are the kind of people that you'd want to be friends with. Now, what do you say to a parent about when to let their kids have a phone?

This is a huge thing and it's going to be different for each kid, because some kids might be able to handle it where other kids couldn't. So see, are they, first of all, responsible with normal things? Do they walk the dog when they're supposed to? Do they do their laundry? Do they pack their lunch? Do they clean the house? Do they keep up on their grades? Because if you're having trouble with these basic responsibilities, but they promise if you give me a phone, I will do everything you want me to do and I'll follow every rule you give me about the phone.

You're going to be like, your actions do not show me that. So first of all, make sure if they if they're not making their own lunch, if they're not doing their own laundry, you know, doing things like that. Some parents just like, wait, wait, what?

What did you just say? Making their lunches and laundry? This is before the phone, my friend. You know that these are skills that should be in place before giving this phone.

So are they responsible enough? And then I would really say for sure, it's not needed in elementary school. You know, my daughter is in sixth grade and I know in fifth grade, fourth grade, we started seeing a lot of these kids coming out of class, walking out to their parents' cars and they're holding phones. And it's sad because instead they used to talk to each other and now you see these little tiny kids and they're just looking at their phone as they walk out of school by themselves. So I would say in elementary school, for sure, your child does not need a phone.

If they need one to communicate, maybe you are in two different homes and you need to communicate who's picking her up, what's happening, then like just a simple phone that can text only, that'll work, but not a smartphone. And then I would really caution in middle school, because a lot of times we feel like, OK, it's middle school. Now we're going to let up.

We're going to give the phone. But in middle school, think of it. This is this huge time where they're so unsure of themselves. They're wondering, they're asking the question, do people like me? Girls are asking, am I pretty? You know, what guys are, you know, am I competent? They're asking these questions. You give them a phone and social media during that time and they will find the wrong answers. So I would really caution even a middle schooler.

I'm even thinking of girls. I remember having one of my neighbors. We were talking to her and then her daughter was standing there, too, who is 13. And we were talking about phones. And she said, if I didn't have a phone, it would be social death to me. Yeah, I would have no friends. I would not know what's going on.

I would not. And I was thinking, oh, but you're getting your identity from what other people are saying and doing. And that's the danger of it, especially in middle school. As our values are, everything is being shaped and we're pulling away from our parents more. And we're really tuning into what society is saying and our peers are saying. It could be a dangerous time.

Yeah. And it just as a parent, just scroll through TikTok, just scroll through Instagram, see what's popular. And then you'll wonder, is this what I want my child to be feeding on? And this is not a popular thing. You know, no middle school child is going to be like, oh, great. I don't get a phone.

I don't get a phone so I can be healthy. You know, nobody's going to say that. They're going to be like, you are ruining my life. Right.

This is death to me. Yes. And that's why I think it's so important in those elementary school years, if you are listening to us and you still have those younger kids, that they're building other activities so that when you get to that point in their life, they have relationships. They have real life friends who they don't have to count on connecting on Instagram to be with that friend. They have a friend in real life that they're going to see normally. So it's not social death when they don't have that phone.

Yeah. We had a friend that she was drinking and driving and she had friends in the car with her and it totaled the car. And it was so scary, so dangerous. And she was going into her senior year of high school and her parents said, we're going to take your phone away for the year. For the year.

But the year. And she went crazy. Like, you have just ruined my life. I will have no friends.

I don't have any way to connect. I won't know what's going on. And it's so interesting because when she got into college, she went to her parents and she said, it was the greatest gift you gave me. Wow. And she said, I started walking with God. And she said, I didn't have any space in my head to hear from God or even to contemplate what was going on in my life. And just the quietness sometimes of our head. It's amazing how we we feel God pulling us and drawing us and wanting to have a relationship with us. That I think is such a key thing. You know, I think about in Nehemiah 8, 11, it says, be still for this is a holy day.

And there's not this stillness. You know, that was in the context of Ezra was going to read the book of the law and the people are going to respond to it. And today, you know, kids, if you're online all the time, there's no time to respond to the word of God, to think about things. So how beautiful that that girl was able to say, not when she was 50, hey, mom and dad, thanks a lot. But so soon she found the the benefits.

Yeah, that's so good. Well, let's talk about your subtitle, five skills every child needs in a tech driven world. And by the way, I'm still stuck on this amazing concept. Make your kids pay for their phone. Still thinking about what a novel idea. It's like, I don't know a parent that does that.

Yeah, the monthly bill, whatever. It's like that will change everything. But let's talk about these five skills.

I love that. What are the five skills? So you know about the A pluses of school, academic skills, and those are great. But even more than the academic A's is, you know, what kind of person is your child becoming? So these are A plus skills of affection. Can your child give and receive love? Appreciation.

Are they the child that says thank you or the child that's like, is this all that I get? You know, anger management, anger is a part of life. But how are you going to deal with it? How are you going to talk to people when you're angry? Apology.

How do you own up for things when you do things that are wrong? And then lastly, attention. How can you take that wandering mind and say, wait, right here, I got to pay attention? So these are skills that are really in danger of extinction because we have the A plus skill of amusement, is basically what we have all the time now, is my kid needs to be amused because that keeps them safe and out of my hair. But in reality, is it helping them be these things, affectionate, appreciative, et cetera? Well, I found it fascinating reading your section about affection. And I was thinking, what's affection have to do with a screen? And you draw out that we are less affectionate in life or in our homes and very affectionate with our devices.

And I'm like, oh, busted. You know, it's like you're touching it all the time and you're looking at it all the time. You said we even dress it by their covers, our iPhone protector covers or whatever phone we have. Yeah, we dress our phones. Yeah. So talk about that a little bit. I mean, obviously that's true.

Yeah. So how do we build that skill of affection and how does a device hurt that? So this book, Screen Kids, is co-authored with Gary Chapman of the Five Love Languages. So if you're familiar with the Five Love Languages, think of if your child feels love through physical touch, they love being hugged, they like to wrestle, the girl wants to have her hair braided. That's how they feel loved and secured by physical touch.

Well, you introduced technology into that. And how many times are we like, oh, you're playing a video game? Let me sit right next to you. And so you can feel like, no, you see your kid playing a video game, you run the other direction. You know, it's bedtime. This is a time to take that younger child and put them on your lap and read a book. And you have this like really precious window to do that. But you know what?

Ah, it's been a long day. Take the iPad, read yourself, fall asleep. And so these times that would be usually reserved for some physical touch, all of a sudden, if we're not careful, we're touching the screens instead of our kids and our kids aren't feeling that love. Maybe your kid's language is words of affirmation. They want to hear you speak to them. But when a screen is introduced, whether it's a tablet, a phone, a TV, whatever, what happens? Conversation goes down because you're looking at the screen. So even if you have a TV on in the background, you're kind of doing your own thing. You're not really talking to your child.

I thought that was interesting. Like just it's on. Nobody's watching it, but it's in the background. And that keeps us from talking? From talking. Because you might talk a little bit, but let's say it was quiet in the house.

Then you're like, hey, what's going on? What are you working on? Oh, that's good. Oh, who's that?

What's that? You know, and then now you're talking and you're having this conversation. And so you want more opportunities like that to speak words of affirmation. And a lot of times what works really well is specific words of affirmation. So not just good job, but hey, I noticed your sister was kind of being especially annoying today, but you didn't yell at her and you didn't go crazy. And I noticed that and that was really good. Like you're growing more loving.

That was very good. So it's causing us to be more intentional. And we notice. Let's say we're on our screens all day.

We don't even notice that she did that. And so it's having those words come in, you know, whether it's acts of service, of doing things for your child. Now maybe you don't have time because you're checking other things.

You're checking email, you're getting ahead at work, but you're getting behind at home. So how can you show affection and make sure that screens, you know, are at a minimal so you can show affection? I mean, there are times, and I wonder your opinion on this, where I've sat down beside my son and played a video game with him. And it's actually a cool bonding moment. I'm so glad you said that because now the other husbands are like, yeah, I do that with my son. Is that OK? And I think video games can be something that bring people together if you're playing together.

Like that works. And so if you find that you're playing together with your children and that's something good, then just the questions to ask would be just be careful that it doesn't turn into an addictive thing for either of you. And the way you can look at that is just as a gamer, if you're casual, at risk or addicted. So the casual gamer can just be like, hey, let's pick up a game. They can play for 20 minutes, 30 minutes, walk away from it, go ride a bike.

And it's just like one thing. It's not a big deal. If you pick it up on Friday night and play with your dad, you do it.

If you don't do it Saturday night, it's not a big deal. The at risk gamer is the one that's asking like, oh, we didn't play today. Can we play today? You know, so they're asking each day, can we play?

We didn't. And then, of course, the addicted is like, I didn't play for my few hours today and I'm not happy. You know, and then, you know, OK, what's going on? So you can look at the frequency of when you're playing and if it's really easy to not do it. And you mentioned and never heard this concept before.

What, veggies and candy? That's right. You know, with your digital devices. Explain that.

Yeah. So you can think about if I was carrying around a bag of M&M's, a big king size bag of M&M's, and I was told, oh, just eat 10 today. I'm going to fail.

I am going to fail. I am going to sneak around the house and I'm going to eat that thing till it is empty because I'm holding it. It's tempting. It's candy. I love it. It tastes good.

I'm going to eat it. And it's the same thing for kids. If you give them a device, iPad, a phone, whatever, it's like giving a bag of M&M's and saying good luck because there's so much digital candy out there, whether it's Netflix. And of course, if they watch one program, what's going to happen? The next program that is interesting to them, that's been chosen for them, is going to queue up and they're going to have to have the power to go, oh, I don't want to find out how that ends. I guess I should turn the TV off.

I mean, no one can do that. There's your bag of M&M's. So for kids, you have to understand that it's very tempting and it's kind of unreasonable to be like, oh, just watch a little bit if you give them sway. So whether it's video games, YouTube videos, Netflix, anything that is purely entertaining is candy. And candy is fine in small doses.

It kind of makes you happy. That's fine. But you can't build your body on candy. And in the same way, they can't build their brain, their spirit on candy. Those are the digital vegetables. Those are things like online school. You know, even after the pandemic, no parent is going to say, oh, my child got so addicted to calculus and they just keep going back in that Zoom room hoping that the teacher will show up.

You know, nobody's going to be addicted in that way. So the vegetables are they're listening to a lecture. They're listening to a sermon. They're learning a Bible verse. They're working on their math. It's something that's obviously good for their brain, for their spirit.

There's really no risk of addiction there. And it's a vegetable. And it's something that parents have to serve to their children. The children are not gravitating towards, oh, let me watch 10 TED Talks today.

You know, they're not gravitating toward this. It's something parents, it's the same thing with vegetables. So the digital, so all screen time is not equal. So truly, if your kid is on screens and they're learning how to play the guitar and they're Skyping Grandma and they watch the sermon, that's a lot different than them watching the latest Instagram star and watching things blow up on YouTube. Can you imagine saying that to your teen?

You can watch the sermon. They're going to be like, are you kidding? Are you crazy? Yeah. But I think I like that you're talking about these discussions can start when they're young. What if we feel like it's too late? My household is just bombarded with screens. We're not really talking.

We haven't been intentional for years. We're now listening to this going, oh, boy, I've got to start over. Yeah. And my teenager is going to rebel.

Right. They're going to be so mad. What do you say?

What do they do? I think it's best to start with an apology. So instead of saying like, OK, you guys, you guys have been doing this all wrong. We're going to do it right now.

You know, just say, you know what? I want to be a good parent. I love you guys very much. I've learned some new things and I'm seeing that we're probably not doing this in a healthy way. And I want to help you guys as much as I can. And as long as your kids are under your roof, even if they're 18, 19, 20, there's time. You can make an impact.

And so I think your passion for them and enthusiasm. So approach it like we can do this. Don't approach it like, OK, this is going to be impossible. It's never going to work.

I know. But let's just give it lip service and let's try. You know, they know that they've already got you beat before you even open your mouth. So you've got to come in confident.

And if that means being coached up and mentored by an older person and have coffee with that person before you have this talk, go do that. But you come in strong and you say, I'm really sorry. I've messed up. I've let you sleep with your phone in your room.

I know you're not getting much sleep. I know your grades are shot and I want to help you. We're going to take your phone. We're going to charge it in my room overnight. We're going to do that for a month.

And then let's have let's talk again and see how you're doing. So you come in. It's simple. It's a game plan.

It's specific. So maybe for you, it's just that you're going to do no screens at mealtime. So you have an action step.

Just think whether it's taking a phone away at bedtime, whether it's a limit of three hours a day or less of video games, whatever it is. But you're going to come up with this. You're going to say, this is what we're going to do. And we're doing this because we love you. And don't be afraid to try and don't expect that they're going to thank you.

But you can expect perhaps in years ahead, they will thank you and let that hope carry you through this tough day. One of my best friends used to have all these kids would come to her house. She had three daughters, teenagers. And when they would come in, she had a basket for their phones and they would say, what is this? And she goes, oh, that's the basket for our phones because we want to know you. We want to love you.

We want to have a time that we can really talk. And her home became a magnet because Michelle would sit and look at them eye to eye. She'd pray for them. She'd communicate to them. And it was I thought, oh, are these kids going to be so mad?

No, it became this haven and a safe place for them to come. It reminds me a little bit of Romans 12, too. Think about this. I've never thought of it in the context of screen times when it says do not copy the behavior and customs of this world.

I mean, just that alone. Let's not copy that. But let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. And what we've done over the years, I think it's so subtle and we all have done it. We have allowed screen time to transform our minds.

Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Yeah. And I would say, boy, that apology. Yeah.

Arlene, that was gold. I mean, to think about sitting on your son's or daughter's bed at night or kitchen table and saying, I've done a bad job in this area and I want to do better. I want us to do better. And I just thought if I'm that dad and I'm looking at him right now or that mom, I'd say, and I have to model it. I can't apologize and then just be, you know, I've got to show it. I mean, when I walk in my son's house with little Bryce, who's two years old and little Autumn, who's just a couple of months. He has told me, you're with my son and you're looking at your phone.

I need to put the phone in the coat pocket and leave it there rather than just say, hey, you know, you guys should be careful with your I need to model that. And I would challenge our listener to model that as a husband, wife, as a mom and dad and pick up your book. Arlene, thank you for being with us. It's been an honor to be with you.

Thank you. I think all of us need to be asking the question who's in charge of us? Are we in charge of our phones or are our phones in charge of us? Who's in control?

And I know the easy reflexive answer is, well, of course I'm in charge, but maybe we're not as in charge as we think. And for our kids, that's an even more crucial question, as they just instinctively these days are drawn to their devices. Arlene Pelicane has been talking today to Dave and Ann Wilson about how, as parents, we need to help build specific relational skills in our children so that they are not controlled by their devices. Arlene has written a book called Screen Kids, five relational skills every child needs in a tech-driven world. And we're making her book available this week to Family Life Today listeners, any of you who can help advance the work of Family Life Today. Our goal is to reach more people, more often with practical, biblical help and hope.

We want to come alongside and be a trusted friend as you seek to move your marriage and family in the right direction, in the direction that God has mapped out for us in his word. You can donate to support Family Life Today online at familylifetoday.com or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Again, the website familylifetoday.com or call to support Family Life Today. The number is 1-800-358-6329.

That's 1-800-F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. Be sure to ask for your copy of Arlene Pelicane's book, Screen Kids, when you make a donation. And let me say a quick word of thanks to our monthly legacy partners. The conversations like we've heard today really happen because of the investment that legacy partners make. David Robbins, the president of Family Life, is here with me today. And David, Family Life Today would not exist if it weren't for these faithful friends of this ministry. Yeah, I just want to take a moment and thank our legacy partners because those are partners who join with us monthly and lay the foundation for us to be able to create resources like Family Life Today and so many other resources to provide biblical help and hope to marriages and families.

And we heard from a legacy partner yesterday. The Family Life team forwarded me this email that was so encouraging. And he said, My wife, Linda, and I have been married for over 28 years and involved in some way with family life for many years. We attended a weekend, remember, during a very difficult time of our marriage.

And it was so refreshing and gave us a lot of tools to use. And then he went on and said, I received the daily emails reminding me of so many important parts of maintaining a strong marriage. We love everything about family life and are happy to be a legacy partner. And it just gives me great joy to find others having joy in their giving because we certainly have the joy of getting to bring this gospel truth and the biblical principles of marriage to family to people because of legacy partners like this couple. Yeah, and let me just say, if you are a longtime listener to Family Life Today, maybe it's time for you to join the legacy partner team to make a monthly investment in the lives of marriages and families in your community and all around the world by supporting the work of Family Life Today every month. You can sign on to become a legacy partner. Go to familylifetoday.com to sign up or call 1-800-FL-TODAY.

Here's a little extra incentive for you. When you become a legacy partner for the first time, we want to send you a certificate so you and your spouse can attend an upcoming weekend to remember Marriage Got Away as our guests. That's our thank you gift for all new legacy partners. Again, sign on at familylifetoday.com or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to join us and become a legacy partner. Now tomorrow, Dr. Gary Chapman is going to join us.

You know him. He wrote the book, The Five Love Languages. And Dave and Ann Wilson have just finished their book called No Perfect Parents. And they're going to talk about parenting and love languages and how all of that fits together. It'll be a great conversation. Hope you can join us for that. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I'm Bob Lapine. We'll see you back tomorrow for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-22 21:53:01 / 2023-09-22 22:07:13 / 14

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