Subscriber Profile: Yalda Tehranian Uhls


A look at how Family Savvy subscribers handle the every day issues that all LA parents face:

I always learn something when I meet a new person, and Yalda’s perspective on digital literacy and parenting is right up my alley. Yalda, a former film executive from MGM and Sony, has two children (a 9 year-old boy and a 12 year-old girl), is a doctoral student in Developmental Psychology at ULCA and is the Regional Director of LA Common Sense Media. Common Sense Media is one of our favorite web-resources for parents, for it’s rating system for film, television and media. As we learned from Yalda, the non-profit organization is also developing programming for digital literacy. Yalda’s husband is a screenwriter and her kids go to school at Palisades Elementary. She does research at the Children’s Digital Media Center @ LA and writes about these issues on her blog, Parenting in the Digital Age, where she reviews the latest research on issues such as “Is Texting Bad for My Children?”

All that research is impressive  – but, The Family Savvy wants to know how it work in Yalda’s home!

Do your kids have cell phones? What are your rules about manners and usage?
My daughter has one. She got it late in 5th grade. She is quite responsible with it. I looked at her texts for the first few months.

Do your kids have Facebook and/or Twitter accounts and what are your rules about usage?
No they don’t have either and I don’t think they need one until at least 13 if not beyond that.

Do your kids have computers and what are your rules about usage?
My daughter has my husband’s hand me down laptop. She can not bring it into her bedroom. She is allowed to use it when she needs to for homework or after her homework is done. If she seems like she is on it too much, I tell her to take break. My son is allowed 30 minutes of screentime a day, except on weekends.

What are your rules about the amount of television permitted in the home?
My daughter watches at least a show a night and on weekends if she is free she watches more. As you can see, I am not too much of a stickler about exact number of minutes they can watch. Instead, I keep an eye out for balance of different kinds of activities (ie: reading, exercise) and content consumption. My daughter likes horrible reality tv shows, I try to watch them with her so I can share my values but then sometimes I get sucked in myself!

Describe a ‘perfect moment’ with movies or TV.
My whole family just watched a film together, Another Earth, quite adult in themes, but we talked about it and even my son enjoyed it. It was wonderful to enjoy that sophisticated a movie together and discuss what it meant. We also watch Niga higa YouTube videos and love them. They are very funny in a silly yet somewhat brilliant way.  Although it’s my job, I really do check Common Sense Media’s ratings before I let my kids watch something I have not seen before.

What outings into the city do you find successful with your kids?

Movies, shopping, ice skating, biking, museums – younger and older work, parks when they were younger, the beach, and the Annenberg is amazing, both the beach club and the museum – took my daughter to Beauty Culture which was a great show to see for a young tween with her friend and moms.

If someone with kids comes in from out of town, where would you take them?
The Getty, of course. Then the beach, followed by ice skating in Santa Monica!

What did you do on your last date night with your husband?
Went to Alain Giraud’s new restaurant, Maison Giraud, in the Palisades

What’s the last book you read?
Steve Jobs biography

What are your kids reading now?
My son is reading Tintin, my daughter seems to only read what she has to for school, I just read encouraging research because my daughter is not much of an independent reader and this study indicated that independent reading does not predict future reading achievement, since my daughter does do well in English, that seems to reflect my experience, but it made me breathe easier as a mother who loved to read as a child and sees it as an essential part of life.

What would be your advice to parents as they approach tween-dom?
Trust that you are a good per son and that your values are coming across. Watch very carefully what you model. Do not speak on phone while driving for example!

What have you to say about the ‘work-life balance’?
Love your work and hopefully that will balance the life! There is a great Ted talk about this balance, it is more important to be truly present for a short time than half present for more time.