Does Your Teen’s SmartPhone Rule their Life?
Have you made eye contact with your teen lately, or are their eyes glued to the smartphone that seems to be constantly in their hands? The Nielson Company estimates that American teenagers send and receive an average of 80 text messages per day. For many teens, text messaging is a primary form of communication. It’s a quick, easy and private way for them to make plans, gossip and stay in touch. However, it can feel infuriating when your teen seems to have withdrawn to the world on their smartphone and appears to be avoiding any face-to-face interaction. What is the right balance for parents to require of their teens?
Tips for Parents
Look at the big picture. If your teen is performing well in school, doing chores at home, and following house rules, then it’s probably okay to not worry about their smartphone usage.
Establish appropriate phone limits.
- Set a rule that your child’s phone must be turned off and left on the kitchen table (or some other public area) between the hours of 10 pm and 6 am. Experts suggest that technology use should end at least one hour before bedtime to ensure teens get enough sleep. The consequence for breaking the rule is the loss of the phone.
- Explain that, as the parent, you have the right to monitor their phone activity, and do your best to keep track of what your child does when he or she is online.
- Establish a rule that there is no phone use (calls or texts) during meal times, homework time, or while conversing within the family.
- Let them know your expectations for how long it should take them to respond to your text when they are outside of your home.
- If your teen is driving, let them know that texting while driving is completely unacceptable and will result in the loss of their phone.
- Discourage phone use at school.
Be a good role model.
- Do not interrupt a conversation with your teen to accept a phone call.
- Do not text or talk on the phone while driving.
- Do not spend large amounts of time on FaceBook or other social networking sites.
- Look your child in the eyes when speaking with them.
- Engage in conversation with them regularly without distraction.
- Don’t use text abbreviations or misspellings in any other form of written communication.
Texting does not have to be a bad thing. It can be a useful communication tool for parents to be in touch with their teens. Surveys show that more than half of teens who text message with their parents think it has improved their relationship. So send your teen a quick text during the day to let them know you’re thinking of them or wish them good luck on a test. If you use smartphones to stay in touch with your teen, and help your teen establish a healthy balance in their smartphone usage, then you can rest assured that your teen won’t become a smartphone junkie.