Teens & Screens: 5 Tips to Find Balance

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Technology as another form of communication

In a modern era when we are all on our screens and use them to find stress relief, it’s important to find balance.  I know that personally, for me, having multiple online businesses means that I am in front of a phone or screen for a good part of my working day in order to connect more and more.  

In my work with parents of teens, one of their top 3 concerns is always: “How can I get my teen to spend less time on their phone? I’ve tried taking it away from them, but it always backfires.”

Here’s my advice:

1) Remember that while a phone can be used as both a time-sucker and a lifesaver, it’s important to view it not as a negative object, but as something that can be used for good in order for your child to connect with you and others. 

2) Find out calmly and kindly WHAT your teen enjoys using about their phone: apps, video games, selfies, etc. and connect with them on what YOU like to use, too - this creates a positive atmosphere around technology 

3) On setting limits: Even I set limits with my phone/computer/tv (less time on weekends, during meals, and when doing important tasks like driving, working, studying, etc.).  Screen time can really damper our productivity levels - and for that reason, I encourage the practice of either a screen off/phone out of sight/do-not-disturb mode for YOU and your child 30 minutes to 1 hour before bedtime so that you can get the rest that you need.

4) Recognize those times when your child DOES like to use the phone: Is it right after school? At dinner? In the car? At events when they could be socializing? Compromising and realizing when is a great time to use the screen for self-care time/making memories and when it is best to put it away is key.

5) Know that what works for one family may not work for you - I encourage you to always honor your intuition and to practice slowly cutting back instead of using no-screen time as a punishment. I've found that the more that a child learns how fun/relaxing life can be without a screen, the less they will feel drawn to use it.  Are there any other activities that can be focused on instead?