Many parents worry their teen’s preoccupation with the glowing white screen in their hands is something similar to an addiction, whereas lots of teens get frustrated with their parents’ unwillingness to understand how important their phone is to their social lives.
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Although this can seem like an inconsequential or silly issue at times, it can create some really unpleasant rows – especially if it keeps coming up again and again.
Talking about it
It can be useful to try to see things from your teens’ perspective. Like it or not, mobile technology has become a big part of many teenagers’ daily lives. Instead of going in hard and imposing a whole lot of rules on phone use from the outset, it can be much better to try to open a dialogue.
Talk to them about what they’re using their phone for and let them know any worries you might have. You may encounter a little resistance, but speaking openly and honestly is much more likely to allow you to have a proper conversation instead of a shouting match.
Sit down with your teen at a time when you’re not already feeling emotional (it may be worth waiting until they’re not on their phone before do this!). Ask questions – and listen to what they have to say.
When you talk about what’s bothering you, don’t phrase your comments as attacks or criticisms. You may find it useful to use lots of ‘I’ phrases – ‘I think’, ‘I feel’ – rather than ‘you’ phrases – ‘you seem to’, ‘you always’. That way, your son or daughter is less likely to go on the defensive.
If you feel like their phone use is getting seriously out of hand and that it’s causing real problems, you may want to talk to them about some reasonable compromises when it comes to how much time they spend on it.
For example, you might agree with them that they can go on it in their own time, but when it comes to spending time quality together at a family – say, during meals or during conversations – it’s rude to start texting other people.
Likewise, phone use late at night can be very detrimental to your teen’s sleep patterns, so stopping them from staying up late on social media or talking to their friends isn’t unreasonable.
You may also find it useful to find out what your teen’s school’s policy on phone use is. Establishing a similar set of rules in your own home will help create a sense of consistency and reinforce a healthy understanding of boundaries when it comes to mobiles.
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