Parenting Advice to Get Your Teen Off Smartphone
Every parent wants to know how to get their teen off their smartphone and into their books. Many teens also say that they spend too much time on their phones. The internet is full of advice on rules parents should implement to limit cell phone usage. Those rules are great, but we have some advice that is better than just implementing rules. It’s about becoming the type of parent you always imagined you’d be, about having the type of child you can trust and be proud of.
The sooner you start to implement these behaviors the better; and it’s never too late to start.
Talking to your kids about issues is the number one predictor of success when it comes to teenagers who make great choices. Any kind of talk is great, but specifically talking to children about how to think critically is the best type of conversation. Train your children how to see things through a critical perspective. Commercials, newspapers, advertisements, magazines, internet, and social media all bombard our kids constantly about things they “need.” Have conversations with them that teach them to ask themselves the following questions: Who is trying to sell products to me? What are they trying to sell me? When you constantly question the world through this perspective, you outsmart the marketing strategies.
How does this relate to the phone use? Your children will be less likely to feel the need to check what other people are pretending to be, or have, and will be less likely to compare themselves to others. Many kids think that they need to live up to false images portrayed by their peers on social media. Talk to your kids about this specifically, and do it more than once. Have these types of conversations regularly. Training your kids to see things through a critical lens will lead to their being less interested in false advertising and more interested in real things.
Speaking of real things: are you creating real memories with your children? Are you doing things and going places with them? Keeping your children busy with real life will give them less time and less interest in their phone. Doing things as a unit creates harmony and a sense of unity that children need from their parents. You don’t need to do anything fancy or expensive, just do something. Try roller skating, bowling, cooking something new together, writing a poem, being silly together, playing a board game, etc. And when you do this, put the smart phone away. Don’t take pictures to post on social media later. Do things without telling the world about it. Make it about you and your family—no one else.
Lead by Example
When you put the smartphone away during family time, you are sending a message loud and clear that you are prioritizing your time with your family and that you are being present for them. Many times our physical presence is with our family, but our minds are elsewhere. Phones have a way of taking us away from the person we are sitting right next to. The more present you are with your kids, the more you teach them about being present in the activities they do as well. Mindfulness is shown, taught, and practiced. It transfers to our children from ourselves. So parents, before you tell your teenager to put their phone away, you better make sure your phone is away, too.
Okay, now that you’ve read our tips to being the parent you always knew you wanted be, here are some practical rules to implement with your teen. Remember: in order to truly get your teen off their smartphone, these rules need to be embedded in the tips we mentioned above.
- Cell phones should be put away during homework time. Homework takes mindfulness, so minimize distractions.
- Cell phones should be put away during family time.
- Cell phone use should be avoided in the morning. Mornings should be occupied with activities that fuel the day such as family time, exercise, and meditation or prayer.
- Cell phones should be put away at least an hour before bedtime. Nighttime must be sacred in preparing the body and mind for rest. A new study found a direct link between screen time and mental health issues for teenage nighttime phone users.
Your teenagers need to be reminded that their phone is a distraction that can preoccupy the mind with matters that do not matter in the long term.
Parents, lead by example. Your children will thank you for it later. Don’t be surprised if during this process you find peace of mind, too.