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Judd Apatow on teaching kids to navigate social media: 'It's still terrifying'

Judd Apatow says communication is key to making sure children make informed, smart decisions.
/ Source: TODAY

Back in 2012, Judd Apatow and his wife, actress Leslie Mann, had a system in place to keep their two daughters’ digital use in check. They had a family computer in their kitchen, and no WI-FI in the house.

How’s that working out these days, now that the Apatow daughters, college student Maude, 20, and Iris 15, have their own very cute Instagram accounts?

“We stayed strong for a long time but ultimately we were defeated,” admitted Apatow while stopping by Megyn Kelly TODAY.

The key to raising balanced kids with good heads on their shoulders is to communicate, and then communicate some more.

Premiere Of Twentieth Century Fox's "The Other Woman" - Arrivals
Leslie Mann, filmmaker Judd Apatow, Iris Apatow and Maude Apatow attend the premiere of Twentieth Century Fox's "The Other Woman" on April 21, 2014.Getty Images

“At some point, you need them to want to have an ongoing conversation with you about their habits. But the truth is, they’re looking at whatever they want to look at. If you’ve raised a solid, healthy child, they’ll learn how to navigate all of it. But it’s still terrifying. It’s scary. But my kids are doing great — so far, so good,” says Apatow.

That means being willing to listen. “If your children generally like communicating with you, you’re probably in good shape. If everything is up for discussion, you get opportunities to explain things to them. It’s a never-ending conversation,” he said.

Those who follow Apatow on social media know he’s very vocal about social justice issues, in particular the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, pushing for gender parity in the workplace. It’s notable that while many men in Hollywood wear pins, very few actually address the issues head-on.

“What triggered it for me? It all seems kind of obvious. Five percent of movies are directed by women. There’s this gigantic power imbalance that’s at the root of a of these problems. If there were more women in power, a lot of it would go away. Right now it’s important to try to figure out how to change that," he said.

Premiere Of Vertical Entertainment's "Other People" - Arrivals
Leslie Mann and Maude Apatow, Iris Apatow and actor Judd Apatow attend the premiere of Vertical Entertainment's "Other People" at The London West Hollywood on August 31, 2016 in West Hollywood, California.Getty Images

The king of comedy, who’s responsible for such hits as “Knocked Up” and “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” has switched tempos, co-producing and co-directing “May It Last: A Portrait of the Avett Brothers,” which is airing on HBO. And yes, given that he’s been in this business a long time, he’s seeing a major change in the conversations being had.

“People are saying things they’ve never said before,” says Apatow. “No one was talking about it at all. Everyone was hiding.”