Teens and Their Phones - Part 2
Is your tween or teen ADDICTED to their phone?
How do you know?
What are the signs?
If you haven’t read part one of this blog, CLICK HERE to read that first! Discover what behaviours you should be looking out for, what changes and challenges you may be facing that may be a result of their phone addiction.
So now what?
If it is clear that your teen has a problem, you CAN work towards fixing it. I will always advocate TALKING with them and ROLE MODELING to them acceptable use. If you yourself are addicted (see the last post to have an honest check in with yourself), trying to change your teens behaviour will be an epic fail!
Phone use isn’t ALL bad. It helps them connect with their friends, get help on school work/homework, stay organized with an online calendar/app and stay connected with you and other family members. Although it may seem like your teen is constantly connected, use the above questions to see if their use is indeed having negative consequences on their lives. Your teen may be using their phone within the healthy limits you have outlined (ex. No phones on their bedrooms).
So, if you yourself are role modeling healthy phone habits, the next step is having conversations on this topic. And it isn’t a one-time go! This needs to be an ongoing conversation.
Here are a few ideas to help you:
Educate: Talk openly about the benefits and potential pitfalls of screen time WITHOUT lecturing them. Take the time to listen to them about why they feel the need to be on their phone so much. Guide them into understanding that someone having 24hr access to them is unreasonable and unhealthy for their mind and body. Ask for their input. Talk opening and honestly about how too much screen time affects us physically, emotionally, academically, and socially.
Make a plan: Talk about setting healthy limits and boundaries for your family. Have rules and stick to them. Ex. No phones at the dinner table, no phones in your rooms at night time. Remember, these rules apply to EVERYONE in the family. We must follow the family rules as well.
Monitor use: Our teens will ALWAYS look for workarounds when they feel like they’re being watched. Be honest about what and why your are checking on them. Have them take responsibility for monitoring themselves. There are several apps available to monitor how and when your teens use their phones. The iPhone now has a “screen-time” setting. You can use this to track usage and set healthy limits for specific apps (e.g. xx hours per day for social media). Start with just tracking to see where you are all at now. YOU included. Compare with each other and set goals together. Make it a contest to see who can stay within the agreed upon time. Celebrate when you reach these goals.
No use times: Phones, tablets, and laptops should be removed from the bedroom at night. Sleep is VERY important! Have a plan to ensure that these items are plugged in at a central location in the house before bedtime, and not used until a certain time in the morning.
No screen zones: Meals, family outings, daily car rides, and social gatherings are examples of times when frequent checking negatively affects relationships. Set firm boundaries for screen use in these settings and stick to them.
Smartphones are something new. Most of us did not have them when we were in high school. It’s new territory and with that comes new expectations and rules we as parents have to enforce. We know first hand that mindless scrolling and viewing can waste hours of time and affect daily functioning. It makes us grumpy, irritable and often sad or depressed. But, with healthy limits in place and frequent conversations, we can establish limits and expectations that work and keep our teens healthy and happy.
Phones aren’t going away anytime soon…they CAN be an amazing tool! Let’s teach our children how to use them properly and to self-regulate their use. This TRULY is a skill they will need to be healthy, functioning and independent adults.