It’s a familiar scene: You are trying to initiate a family bonding over dinner and your teen’s eyes are glued to his/her smartphone. With all its glowing light, tapping on its screen, and smiling, your teen and the phone are appears to be having a conversation. You call his/her attention and he/she replies (as always) with, “What?”
It’s irritating enough to pull your trigger, right?
Ever since that technology has developed, it undeniably changed the way of living. Gone are the days when phones only allow you to make and receive texts and calls. Phones have evolved with better features – in which internet is the most popularly use. The advent of the social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram), applications, and games could make your teen addicted to them. Moreover, being an adolescent that’s very concerned with fitting in, smart phone and the internet helps him/her stay in the loop and feel the sense of belonging. UA Huntsville psychologist Pavica Sheldon says, “They live their lives immersed in technology, surrounded by cell phones, computers, videogames, digital music players and video cams,” Sheldon said. “We need to understand not just how they use these new tools, but how they are affected by them.”
As a concerned parent that you are, how do you cut your teen’s phone addiction while ensuring that he/she’s not left behind by his/her peers?
Talk to your teen about the pros and cons of having a smartphone.
Whether you’re just about to give a new smartphone or he/she already owns one, always remind and explain to your teen its advantages and disadvantages. Your teen should know when and where he/she should use it. Make him/her understand what types of applications are okay to download, to whom they should only communicate, and what things are appropriate to be shared online.
This is also the best time to set the rules. However, make sure that your teen understands and appreciates the need to impose such. Sandi Lindgren PCC, LICSW reminds parents to“limit screen time for younger teens; show interest in them, their ideas, opinions, dreams; engage teens in conversations about choices, relationships, and future plans; and provide opportunities for them to explore their own point of view through conversation without judgment.”
Limit your family’s use of the internet.
Set the time when your teen can use the internet – most especially the social media. For instance, three hours on the weekdays and five hours on the weekends.
There is a need to impose such rule, not only to your teen but to the whole family as well. This way, you’re being fair to everyone and your teen won’t feel that he/she is being grounded or controlled. It’s also necessary that your teen knows how your family values the importance of following the rules. Be their role model, and your teens will surely take this cue from you.
Find activities that replace the excitement associated with using the smartphone, and be creative about it.
Sometimes, limiting the media use can cause your teen boredom and the feeling of being left behind. Therefore, this may increase the desire and trigger them to grab on their phones and indulge in the online fun.
Think of and provide wholesome activities to prevent and fight boredom. Be sure to be creative about it. For example, watching a movie together is a great idea for family bonding. However, it may not be that appealing to your teen. With all the free movies online, he would just probably lock himself in the room and watch them alone. Why not take him into a robot park? Or encourage him to try a new hobby? Once they’re hooked into something productive and fruitful, they won’t mind spending less time being online. The trick is knowing their interests. “There is also little doubt that all of the new technologies, led by the Internet, are shaping the way we think in ways obvious and subtle, deliberate and unintentional, and advantageous and detrimental.” Jim Taylor Ph.D. notes.
Make use of the technology to build a productive habit.
You might want to enroll your teen in a programming, animation, or app design class. Teenagers these days find these stuff cool to do. And who knows? They might end up successful doing these in college.
Channel that passion and put it to work.