Tired of your teenager using the cell phone 24/7? Are they answering texts at dinner, during homework, in the middle of the night, etc?
Getting a text message is rewarding in the brain. It makes the teen feel good, and feel compelled to answer right away. While it does build friendships and keep them bonded with their peers, it is extremely distracting!
For teens who are addicted to using their phone, their efficiency is terrible. It takes extra hours to complete any task. It only takes a few seconds to answer a text, but a lot of teens actually send/receive hundreds of texts each day, and some even over a thousand. If you think about it, that’s a lot of time when it’s all added up.
When you require some downtime away from electronics, you are allowing your adolescent to develop an important skill. It is essential that everyone has time for their mind to be quiet and calm. Having the phone at all times means constant stimulation and entertainment. It doesn’t force the brain to be creative. It doesn’t allow time for contentment. You will probably be the victim of a hellacious argument, but requiring the phone be given to you during homework time and at bedtime will do your teenager wonders. They will probably find themselves able to complete assignments faster, and get better sleep. They might also be surprised to realize they are happier.
Studies show that teens who are addicted to technology are actually somewhat miserable. Teenagers who can wait awhile before answering a text because they want to finish their current activity experience a better sense of accomplishment. They also don’t feel obsessive-compulsive. The phone can become kind of like a leash if your adolescent isn’t careful. You will get another added benefit: more quality time with your child. Rather than everyone going out to dinner and sitting in the waiting area on their phones, you might actually talk. You might find you can connect with your child and hear about their day. Eventually they will even like it! That takes time though so be patient.
Helping teens grow and families improve connection,
Lauren Goodman, MS, MFT