Curbing Teen Internet Addiction
How your teen can maintain a healthy relationship with screens
Teenagers these days are spending more time than ever before interacting with screens. Whether this is through their laptops, mobile phones, or tablets, much of their free time is spent in cyberspace, something that may be concerning for some parents.
Spending time engaged with a screen is not necessarily a bad thing, although most people will agree that there is definitely a point where it becomes too much. On top of this, most parents these days understand that interacting with social media is a part of modern life and is not necessarily a bad thing. That being said, parents still want their children to maintain a healthy relationship with screens and electronic devices.
Set Some Limitations On Screen Time: Whether it be school, socializing, or extracurricular activities, teenagers spend a fair amount of time out of the house as it is. Still, parents can put a time limitation on their teens when they are at home.
Encourage Sports: An excellent way to get kids to put down mobile devices is to have them engaged in some form of sporting activity. Not only will this result in significantly less screen time, but sports have been known to be a healthy undertaking, both physically and socially, for some time.
Set A No Mobile Device Policy During Dinner: Several studies have shown that children who spend time eating dinner with their family tend to develop more positive social and family relationships as adults. However, if they are spending the majority of their time on their phones, then this shared dinner time will not have much of an impact on them. Parents should try and clarify that dinner time is for talking, sharing, and listening and is meant to keep family members updated on what’s going on in one another’s lives.
Encourage Socializing With Friends: Adolescent psychologists are noticing a trend amongst teens in which they have begun to socialize less and less in-person and more and more online. “Online socialization isn’t an issue, but can become one if it begins to take away from their face-to-face time with their friends,” writes Jeremy Bute, a journalist at Writemyx.com and 1day2write.com.
Turn Off WiFi At Night: If your child relies primarily on WiFi to use their mobile devices, it may be worth shutting the WiFi off at night time. Although this may work for some people, it may not be appropriate for other families, especially if the child has their own data plan.
Be A Role Model: It’s not just teens who are guilty of spending long periods of time on their mobile devices, adults are as well.
“Many people have jobs that require them to be ready to answer a call, message, or email at any moment. Sometimes, these responsibilities may cause them to spend hours on their phone or computer, something which may signal to teens that it’s ok or normal behavior,” writes Henry Stan, a health writer at Britstudent.com.
Hold Family Activity Times: Less and less families are putting time aside to enjoy one another’s company. In most cases, the only time families spend together is during dinner time, and even that is becoming less and less frequent. One of the best ways to increase communication between family members is by creating designated family activity times.
The activities can be spent outdoors hiking, kayaking, and biking or indoors playing board games. Regardless of what is chosen, it is recommended that these activities be designated a no mobile device time, which will help people stay more engaged and connected and will also give teens a break from their screens. Some parents have had success with stubborn teens by bringing them on hikes or outdoor adventures where cell phone signal is sparse or not available at all.
Don’t Replenish Data If They Go Over: If there is one new argument that has risen over the last decade between teens and parents it’s over data. Teens often feel like they don’t have enough, and parents are tired of their children using it all up before the month is over.
In many cases, parents end up topping up their kids data, which doesn’t teach them to conserve and encourages an unhealthy relationship with their mobile devices. If your child is constantly using more data than they have, consider being firm and telling them they don’t get anymore until the next cycle begins.
Read why removing your teens’ devices isn’t always the answer.