Please, put your cellphone away!
Last evening we sat down to play a game of Apples to Apples for a bit of family time. (love this game!) We were all laughing and very engaged until my daughter picked up her smartphone and became glued to it. Finally, I asked her to put it away. She did, begrudgingly in a way that only teens can do.
How do you get teens to part with their computer devices for family time or simply face to face time?
There is no doubt that it’s hard to set boundaries with teens. And as a parent especially when you’re playing a game and trying to have fun, you can feel like the bad guy when you tell them, “please put away your device.” But in this digital age, unfortunately the online world is a huge part of our kid’s world and some times we need to bring them away from it to be part of their “real” world with “real” face-time with humans. Texting, video games, posting a “selfie” on Instagram can consume your child’s life. We need to occasionally step-in and take family time back and set boundaries.
If we don’t set boundaries with computer devices, research has shown that kids will be prone to
- Staying up to the wee hours of the morning on their devices, which will result in sleep deprivation
- Have trouble getting homework done and not doing a good job on homework because of being distracted
- Sitting, sitting, and more sitting using their devices which means not getting adequate exercise which can lead to obesity and poor health
- Spending less time with family and parents and more time with their peers online which may result in peers having a bigger influence than parents (never a good scenario!)
- Getting information online that may not be correct and influence decisions about important topics like sexual behavior, drug use, self harm etc.
So What Should You Do?
- Ask Your Teen To Put Their Device Away. As hard as it is to be the squeaky parent, do it. Speak up and ask your teen to put their device away whether it’s at the dinner table, when you’re trying to have a conversation in the car, or when you’re having family time at Thanksgiving or some other holiday. When you hear them laugh during a conversation, laugh when a bad joke is made or laugh while playing a game… it will be worth it!
- Establish Boundaries of Use. Teens don’t need computers, cellphones or TVs in their bedrooms. Remove these devices. Cellphones and laptops, tablets etc. should go in your room at night to charge. Your child will get a good night’s sleep and perform better in school. Your child won’t be the one to fall asleep at their desk during math class.
- Tell Them Why? Talk to your teen about why you’re establishing these boundaries and the effects of too much computer/cellphone activity. When your teen understands that you have their well being at heart, they’ll get it.. Let them know that you get that computer devices and the online world is a huge and important part of their life, but that it’s harmful to let these devices rule their world, interfere with the real people and important activities (school, exercise) in their lives.
- Be A Good Role Model Yourself. Make sure that you put your cellphone away too during dinner or family time or when your teen is trying to get your attention!