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Teenagers And Smartphones: 4 Strategies for Parents to Take Control

Put The Phone Down!

Many teenagers continue to struggle to moderate their use of technology, especially their phones. So what’s a parent to do? Here are four strategies to get you started.

#1: Model Moderation.

Research shows that the No. 1 impact on our teenager’s behavior is our own behavior. So put the phone away at meal times, while driving, and during face-to-face conversations. Your teenager will (eventually) get the idea.

#2: It’s Your House; Set Rules.

Here are a few that experts recommend:

  • No phones at mealtimes.
  • No technology after 8 or 9 p.m. (the light emitted by these devices interferes with melatonin levels, so allow about 30 minutes before bedtime to be screen free).
  • No devices in the bedroom at night (so no temptation to check texts at 3 a.m.).
  • Limits on how long teenagers can use their devices each day.
  • Limits on what activities your teenager has access to (for example, decide if you’re comfortable with your teenager talking to strangers on sites like Omegle and Chatroulette).
  • And, of course, no using the phone while driving ever.

#3: Monitor, But Don’t Snoop.

Make it your job to have some idea what your teenagers are doing with their devices. But, be upfront about it. Stress to your teenager that your expectation is that they will not do anything with their device that he or she wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing with you (like sexting). Follow teenagers on social media and tell them that if you feel it’s necessary, you will spot-check their texts, email and chats. If that feels uncomfortable, ask another adult whom you and your teenager trust – an aunt or uncle, for example – to assume this role.

#4: Consider an Internet Filtering Program.

For adolescents in particular, parents may want to consider an Internet filter that blocks access to pornography and chat services, like Omegle and Chatroulette. Parents should know that sexually explicit content is all over the Internet – even on sites like Tumblr – so tell your adolescent to talk to you about anything or anyone he or she may have encountered.

Though, at times, it can feel that technology causes more problems in our homes than anything else, it’s important to respect what it means in your teenager’s life. They should have access to technology. But they should have limits too.