It’s a welcomed, yet hard to believe surprise that teens actually want help managing their phone use. Considering excessive cell phone use has been linked to depression and also exposes kids to online bullying, it really shouldn’t be so surprising that teens have noticed these negative effects and want to change.
According to a national survey by Screen Education, 65% of teens wished they were better able to self-regulate the time they spend on their smartphone. The desire is there! The only question left is how can you as a parent help your child direct this into action, and exactly what action? Furthermore, 68% have attempted to reduce the time they spend on their smartphone, which may indicate that only a couple percent of these teens actually have the skills to deal with their phone addictions.
There are two general approaches to help your child in this situation- you can either tell them what to do or make them question their habits to get them to change on their own. The first is not unfounded considering 26% of those surveyed wished someone would limit the time they spend on their phones for them, and 53% of those that attend schools which ban smartphones in class are glad they do so. Clearly teens take issue with their own phone habits and in many cases would like someone to do the decision making for them.
However, many parents find that teens are old enough to make decisions like this on their own and would rather foster their child understanding choices and their consequences, than command them one way or the other. If this is you, perhaps consider having a discussion that uncovers the links between excessive cell phone use and the negative effects- making obvious that continuing to use phones in this way will result in negative consequences. Demonstrating the cause-and-effect in a clear cut manner and leaving it at that, can illuminate this issues for many children who just couldn’t see it themselves.
So let’s say that you have tried either of these suggestions and you discover that it was a success- your teen has managed to curb their phone use! But what next? With this freedom from cell phones, what will your kid do now? This question got our staff here at BulliPatrol excited and we all started to reminisce about our childhood days, which prompted us to do an interview session with some of our staff to remind everyone that, yes, tech-free fun still exists. You can read our answers here.