Cutting Teen Mobile Device Use – Expert Advice For Parents
It’s not as if internet addiction alone isn’t enough for parents to worry about – now there’s the constant fear of smartphone addiction to throw into the mix. Of course the two are extremely intricately interlinked as when an individual of any age becomes hopelessly addicted to a smartphone, it is usually the internet connection that has brought about the dependency.
One of the biggest problems faced by parents of teenage children is that of not knowing where to draw the line between acceptable use and clear overuse. Given the fact that 99.9% of teenagers these days all have smartphones and all spend almost all of their time using them, it’s very difficult to know where the line should be drawn. Not only this, but to take things too far could potentially result in the teenager in question being somewhat segregated from their primary social group, for which online interaction represents one of the biggest and most important elements of the group socialising.
Nevertheless, there is nothing to say that parents cannot have a genuinely positive effect on the habits and behaviours of their teenage children, simply by working toward a reduction in smartphone use. It’s probably safe to say that largely every teenager in the country could benefit from cutting down at least a little, which with mild to moderate parental intervention can be relatively painless.
Here’s a brief rundown of just a few tips that could prove helpful:
1 – Lead By Example
First and foremost, you absolutely cannot expect kids of any age to do anything other than spend all of their free time buried in mobile devices if this is exactly what you yourself do with your own spare time. Even if it’s relatively difficult to do and means to some extent going without your favourite games and online activities, leading by example is of the utmost importance. It’s basically a case of showing them that life without mobile devices has a lot going for it and that you do not necessarily need an Internet connection to have fun and socialise.
2 – Assign Phone-Free Time
In a very similar vein, it is a good idea to get together as a family and decide between yourselves specific hours each day of the week during which mobile devices are disallowed. This means parents and children alike taking their devices and either turning them off or placing them in a communal place for the duration of the smartphone-downtime. Unsurprisingly, this represents the kind of suggestion and prospect that will in most instances be met with tears, tantrums and protests when first introduced. Nevertheless, when it is something that happens every day at specific time that can be planned for, it soon just becomes standard ‘house rules’ and can teach restraint and patience.
3 – Strategic Contracts
One of the best ways of ensuring that your children do not get carried away with their mobile devices is to be strategic when it comes to the contracts you choose for them. What this basically means is ensuring that while the contract you select for your kids does everything it needs to do, it isn’t necessarily overly generous. If they are provided with relatively modest data allowances every month for example, this will make it impossible for them to go completely over the top with things like streaming media and so on. Think about what you’d like them to do and what you’d prefer them not to do when deciding on their contracts.
4 – Be Firm With Ignorance
It’s crucially important to remember at all times that you are the boss and that you are ultimately doing your best to instill positive habits and behaviours in your kids. As such, if and when you find yourself in a situation where your child is clearly being completely ignorant or in any way unpleasant due to their mobile device usage habits, you are perfectly entitled to confiscate them indefinitely. It’s one thing to be using a device on something of a routine or even near-constant basis, but when the individual in question crosses the line into ignorance, it’s time to take action.
5 – Note Behavioural Issues
Last but not least, it’s important to be on the lookout for the kinds of behavioural issues and warning signs that could indicate a somewhat dangerous addiction. Smartphone addiction is a very real and potentially life-affecting problem that’s been growing in prevalence for decades. In this instance, it’s a case of being on the lookout for worryingly compulsive behaviour – losing sleep due to constant smartphone use, inability to function without constantly checking social media, anxiety and fear during times when the smartphone is not available for use or generally allowing social, domestic or school lives to suffer due to excessive smartphone use. If a suspected problem is detected, it is far preferable to nip it in the bud.