07 Sep How to get your teenager off their phone
You may have noticed, but at Time To Log Off, we love a mini series, whether that’s in the form of a set of challenges, articles or collaborations. This time, we’ve put together a set of actionable ‘how to’ guides which are designed to help you and your family cut down your tech time in a productive way. We’re starting our series with a guide on ‘how to get your teenager off their phone’ – a modern day battle that all parents of Generation Z will know well!
Generation Z – a cohort of smartphone zombies?
A UK poll has found that parents find it easier to get their children to do their homework, go to bed or have a bath than turn off their phones, laptops, and TVs. Our children have grown up surrounded by technology. Being joined at the hip with your iPhone is the norm – god forbid you lose that Snapchat streak! As we have mentioned before, research from the University of Oxford suggests that moderate screen use is actually beneficial for teens, fostering creativity and communication skills. However, there are limits, which when surpassed, mean that their tech time is no longer benefiting them. Having a good idea about how long your kids are online each day is important for ensuring they develop offline hobbies and friendships and pay sufficient attention to their school work. Did you know that 22% of 12-15 year olds say that binge-watching series has led them to neglect their school work?
Why should we talk to our teens about their phone use?
Taking an active interest in your teenager’s tech time isn’t just about curbing how long they spend online (pretty much everything they do on their phone!). It’s about ensuring you know that they are staying safe on the internet, too. Internet Matters has some great advice for parents wanting to talk to their older teens about cyber-bullying, online grooming and inappropriate content. Most would be surprised to hear that as many as 60% of teens have been asked for a sexual image or video online. Our founder, Tanya Goodin, also visits schools to talk to young people about internet safety and helps them understand how to protect their virtual reputation by explaining the real permanence of posting online. So, it’s clearly important to talk to your teenagers about their phone use, their portable gateway to a 24/7 social world. But how do you actually get your son or daughter to put their phone down?
How to get your teenager off their phone
#1 Set a good example
If there’s one thing that teens don’t respond well to, it’s hypocrisy. If you want to start cutting down your child’s screen time, you first have to reflect on your own. For example, telling them they can’t use their phone at mealtimes while you flick through your own emails will no doubt lead to a heated dinnerime duel.
#2 Treat them like adults
Teenagers are in a hurry to grow up – don’t it’s a trap! Treating teenagers like children (by moaning at them) will only give them more motivation to ignore you and retreat into the online world. Explain why it’s important to take time out from technology, however old you are. Need some facts and figures to back you up? We’ve got loads of insights you can share with your teens.
#3 Create family boundaries around phone use
We always promote family digital detoxes, as they make for a great way to log off together, with each other’s support. And as mentioned above, if you lead by example, you’re more likely to have success. Ask every family member (including yourself!) not use their phones in bed, during dinner or in the bathroom. Similar boundaries around time also work well. For example, no phones after 9pm.
#4 Come up with fun activities that trump using their phone
The best way to curb your teen’s phone use is by filling their time with activities that are much more fun than scrolling through their phone! It might not be ‘cool’ to do things with your parents, but an age-appropriate day out is a great way to get the family together and spend some time away from screens.
So, there you have it. Some actionable tips to help you get your teenager off their phone. We hope that you see your teenage smartphone zombie return from the internet black hole!