5 Things You Can Do To Help Your Student Reduce the Use of Her Phone

By Mary DeLorenzo, School Psychologist

During our recent Parent Coffee, the topic of technology came up.  The world in which our teens live today is shaped by the smartphone, which has made it a challenge to create balance. In the September issue of the Atlantic Monthly, Dr. Jean Twenge’s article titled, “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?”  suggests that teens today are more anxious and depressed than previous generations. This generation tends to go out less, dateless, drive less and waits longer to take on the responsibilities and pleasures of adulthood.

The average teen spends about two and a half hours a day on electronic devices outside of school, doing their homework, texting, sharing, trolling, and scrolling. When surveyed, teens indicated that they primarily connect with others through social media, and often keep themselves occupied on their phones until way past bedtime. With their phones in hand, teens do not need to leave home to spend time with their friends. They are home more often with their parents under the same roof but are not necessarily closer given that kids and parents are spending a great deal of time on their devices.

Modern teens are learning to conduct most of their communications while looking at a screen and are not looking at each other. With digital socialization, they are missing out on critical social skills given that they are less able to speak directly, develop friendships with real-time interactions, take risks, and practice relating to people.

Research suggests that teens use of social-media often leads to feelings of unhappiness, they tend to over document on snap chat, Instagram, or Facebook, seeking affirmation through “likes” or comments and those who are not right there, are feeling left out.
There is a relationship between social media, social disconnection, and poor mental health, and our teens are not alone. Phone addiction has become a global issue given that the use of technology has become an essential part of daily lives. Parents share the feeling of pressure to stay plugged in and responsive to emails and to keep up with news and events.

In an effort to find balance, here are a few ways that you can help your teen reduce her technology use:

5 Things You Can Do To Help Your Student Reduce the Use of Her Phone
Meal times are technology free times – create a space for conversation without the temptation for technology.
Limit tech time and help her build a safe and reasonable relationship with her phone.
Charge your phones at night in another room other than the bedroom.  – Keep your student’s room for studying and sleeping.  Also reduces the temptation of checking one’s phone at night.
Encourage her to participate in sports, theatre, music, clubs, a job, or real-time with friends, which are much healthier than screen time.
Make time to do the things that give you and your daughter a sense of purpose, bring you joy and time together.
                                       Learn from yesterday,
                                            Live for today,
                                       Hope for tomorrow.
                                               -Albert Einstein