Did you know that 77% of teens ages 12-17 own a cell phone, and 63% of teens say they text message every day? Face it – cell phones, computers and tablets are a big part of our lives. Once you realize it has been weeks since you had a real talk with your teen- besides via text message or a phone call, it’s time to tell them to put down the phone and talk without it. Here’s how:
Be Role Models for Moderation
If you’re not practicing what you preach, how can you expect your teens to? By the time kids reach their teenage years, they’re not easily tricked anymore. In fact, they are much more in tune than ever before, so it is important to be the role model. As a parent, show that you can disconnect from technology easily, especially when you are having family time.
Take Your Time
The constant demand and stress among peers to have the latest and greatest phone or tablet is something that will never go away. Before technology, this demand was still present, and it always will be in teens. So the next time your teen is begging you to get them the latest iPhone that was released don’t rush it. Before you even initially buy your teen a cellphone, make sure they are mature and responsible enough to handle having one. Create a payment plan for them to use to pay you back for their phone, limit their monthly text messages, etc.
Set Rules at Home
It is one thing when your teens are at school with their phones, and it’s another when they are at home. While most schools ban cellphones during classes, it is not as common for families to ban cellphones during dinner or at church. Try to create a method that shows your teens that they cannot be on the phone or online at all times, and they have to focus sometimes on talking face to face.
Snooping and watching are two different things. Snooping is enough to break your teens’ trust forever; but watching is protecting and keeping them safe. Your goal should be to watch by keeping an eye on monthly cellphone usage, how often you see them with their phone in their hands or pocket, how comfortable they are with leaving their phones around you. If they can’t put down their phones for just a minute and step away – that’s a problem. Be on the lookout for this behavior.
It’s our job to teach our kids what life was like before cellphones and technology. Help them learn how to talk and interact with others in different ways so that they can develop the same skills as those who know what life was like without cellphones.