How can I help my teen break free of the screen?
Did you know that according to studies teens are frustrated by their own obsession with their smartphones?
How to help your teen find digital-balance:
Smartphone addiction has become an increasing concern for many parents, especially with the start of school just around the corner, and many students getting smartphones.
Seventy-two percent of teens felt pressured to respond immediately to texts, notifications and social media messaging. A 2018 Pew Research report found that 95 percent of 13- to 17-year-olds had their own smartphones or had access to one, and 45 percent said they were online “almost constantly.”
So what can parents do to help prevent their teenagers from becoming screenagers?
1. Start with a contract. The first step is to set boundaries, and what better way to do this than to put the rules in writing. Draw up a Cell Phone Contract, or a Family Agreement, with your young user. Family agreements can include rules about when and how the phone may be used, and detail consequences for breaking the rules. You can find numerous examples of cell phone contracts or family agreements online. Almost all of them focus on the same key items, such as sharing passwords with parents, limiting use of the device to certain times of the day and in certain places, promising not to use the device for inappropriate photos or bullying, and so on.
2. Set limits and monitor use. Consider creating “no phone zones” in your home, like the dining room table, and making sure your teen is putting the phone away at certain points of the day. Also, take advantage of parental controls to set limits on your child’s smartphone use, and monitor it. Set monthly limits on texts and mobile purchases; and restrict texting, data usage and outbound calling during specified times of the day. There are also monitoring services that let you view your child’s texts, call logs, phone location and more.
3. Create daily and weekly offline time. Most teens admit to having FOMO, or fear of missing out, on something, and the need to respond quickly when they receive messages and notifications. That constant potential feedback loop can lead to obsessive behaviors that disturb the course of daily activities. Researchers say creating daily and weekly offline time as part of the family routine can be helpful.
4. Be cyber aware. Being constantly connected brings increased risk of theft, fraud and abuse. Educate your young user on internet safety tips. Stress the importance of never sharing their personal or family information online and never engaging with strangers online.
5. Be a role model. As parents, we should consider our smartphone habits as well. The 2015 Pew survey found that 46 percent of American adults believed they could not live without their smartphones. If we expect our kids to limit their time on their smartphones, then we too need to practice what we preach.
Read more about why teens are frustrated about digital addiction.
Warning signs your teen is addicted to technology.