Dear Your Teen:
My 14-year-old freshman is constantly on her phone and it really annoys me. She is busy and involved with a lot of things at her school, including sports, and gets good grades. But at what point is it enough? I’ve talked with my daughter about looking up from her phone and enjoying life once in a while. Am I being unreasonable? I try to respect her privacy, but I also do check up on her once in a while. I just don’t want to be one of those parents who has no idea what their daughter is doing behind the scenes. Help!
You are wise to check in and check up on your daughter. Teens are still in our care for a reason. They are learning and practicing how to be responsible adults, but learning is still the name of the game. When you set limits and help her to create balance in all aspects of her life, you help establish life long habits.
Setting limits to her phone use
“All things in moderation” is a good rule of thumb. Yes, she can be on her phone. It is the current way of socializing—the current way of “hanging out.” Consider this, if she were with her friends in person as much as she is electronically, would it seem reasonable?
The other aspect of this is the need for “face time” in real life, not electronically. Our brains wire socially when we engage with the whole person—conversation is wrapped in body language, tone and inflection. All of that is lost with texting. Your interaction with your daughter—without the competition of the phone—helps her increase social skills by investing in a full body experience of relationships. When you limit phone time you model a healthy balance for ways to stay connected. The phone is a great way to relay information and stay updated but it cannot replace a “live performance.”
One last thought. Next time you talk with your daughter about this, ask her what she would lose by separating herself from her phone interactions. Then ask her what she might gain by putting her phone aside for short times. Propose that you create a plan for two weeks that provides some breaks so that she can see what she’s gaining or missing. Then you’ll both have a better picture of what “reasonable” might look like. Emphasize “short breaks” so that it feels doable. Once your daughter is taking the phone “break” you may find that they naturally last longer than what you established.
Best to you as you walk the electronic journey of discovery!!