There is no question that teens are spending way too much time on social networks, and in turn— studies have shown — their mental health is suffering. Social media and constant text messaging from peers have become so integral to teens lives that in many cases it is leading to more anxiety, depression, and decreased self-esteem.
With the use of social media, there is no escape from the stressors of adolescent peer-to-peer relationships. No escape from bullying and a constant exposure to a skewed and unrealistic view of others’ lives. Teens are spending more time glued to their devices and less time exploring the world around them. But what are parents to do about it? This type of technology is expanding at a rapid pace and parents can’t keep up with it. Not to mention, parents are not familiar with much of the technology or programs making it increasingly difficult to monitor.
How Parents Can Manage Their Teen’s Technology Usage
1.) Talk to your kids — explain to them why they need to limit use and develop a plan together so you can both be on board.
2.) Set limits — for example no phone use after 8 p.m. (many carriers allow you to turn off data at set times). Tell them they have to maintain grades, and complete homework before getting on social networks. Follow through with consequences if they break rules.
3.) Encourage outside activities — try to talk your teen into taking a walk with friends to the park, or plan a bike ride to get a special treat; encourage sports.
4.) Utilize an app — obviously talk and encouragement only go so far, and a lot of teens will find ways around rules. There are a variety of apps out there specifically designed to help you monitor or restrict you child’s phone use. Two examples are Kidslox Screen Time Parental Control, which allows you to remotely control all of your child’s devices, and Mobile Guardian, which limits what your teen can search for on the internet. There are a variety of these apps and new ones are coming out each day.
5.) Set a good example — it is easy as adults to get caught up in technology but if your child constantly sees you on your devices then of course they think it is ok. Create no-phone zones, such as the dinner table or bedrooms. Leave the phones in the house and go play a game outside or go for a bike ride. Have a game night. Find ways to spend time together as a family minus technology.
There is no doubt limits on technology are always going to be a struggle, especially as more programming and devices are created. The best thing a parent can do is to talk to them about disconnecting and teach by example. Don’t ignore the fact that it should be limited, and know it can create negative impacts on their child’s overall health. Watch your children and be aware of their emotions as much as possible. And, when in doubt, consult a professional.
Author: Whitney Halleman, LPC
Whitney is a licensed professional counselor who loves working with teen girls so they can live healthier lives and be more confident. She is happy to be living in her hometown of Lancaster again after living out of the area for the last ten years. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.