We have all had the conversation.
Your teen is sitting on the couch with their phone in their hand. You are trying to ask them about anything interesting happening in their day, or what they did at school. Their answers are brief and barely comprehensible. They never even take their eyes away from their screen and getting more information is like trying to extract a single molecule from an atom.
It is a frustrating issue, but not surprising. Teenagers are now faced with an endless number of distractions that are available to them at every turn. They can be anywhere, in any situation and be able to whip out their phone to watch TV shows, chat with friends, browse social media and more.
This is not a horrible thing, in and of itself. Wider access to entertainment comes with other perks as well, such as a boundless access to information and education. But we have to help them temper that media distraction and learn to focus on the real world in front of them.
Just a few small changes in daily life can help to do that.
Set Screen Use Times
Just because your teen has access to media at any time doesn’t mean they should be allowed to use it. It may seem a bit difficult to set those limits on someone of their age, when they expect certain concessions to their increasing years. But you are still their parent and too much time spent staring at a screen can have negative effects on their health.
In the meantime, try and get them involved more in other activities. Sports, non-technological hobbies, time spent with the family..anything to offer a healthier distraction.
Go Low Tech
One of the best things I think a teenager can learn is how to find things outside of technology. Google makes it easier than ever to access anything you could want, including for educational purposes. But knowing how to go through old newspapers, how to find books at the library, what reference materials are and how they are used…these are useful skills.
They might not be thrilled about having to access media in less efficient ways, but when they get to college they will thank you.
Turn Off Their Notifications
I don’t know about you, but if I get a notification on my phone I will immediately stop what I am doing and check it. It is a terrible habit of mine that I have never been able to break. Teenagers are the same…how can you expect them to do better than we do on that front?
Encourage them to turn off notifications for unnecessary apps. When they are studying, having family time, out with friends or at the dinner table have them turn off the sound.It will make a huge difference.
Find out more about this and other modern parenting topics at Parent Learning Center.