The #1 question parents have this summer is "How do I get my teen on board with screen time? Why is it so hard?" I have been answering and solving this question for parents for almost the past decade. While most of the things I do are trade secrets, I'm going to share 3 of them with you today. Doing these 3 things will literally make your teens tolerable if not excited about screen time.
The #1 complaint I get from teenagers about screen time is that their parents have unrealistic expectations. Most parents laugh, but these teens aren't wrong-most of the time. Think about it. Can you survive on your phone for only 2 hours a day? Or only check your social media feeds, email, messages, etc. in 30 minutes? Most adults I know can't do it. I don't even think I could do it on a slow day.
So how do we get our teens to accept the rules? Being realistic is the idea, but that's hard to do unless you're living the rules too. Yep. That's my #1 thing I have my clients do. I have the entire family get on the same page. Kids can't have phones while driving. Perfect!! Nether can mom or dad. You don't want your teens phones in the bathrooms or bedrooms. Heck Yes!! You've read my #1 place tech shouldn't be. Abide by the same rule. Period. No exceptions.
What if I'm on call for work? I'm not mean, but this gives you the opportunity to discuss with your kids exceptions to the rules you're setting. That's the whole point. Scientists have proven that kids-even if they don't agree with the rules-will abide by those rules as long as they're included in the process and the parents are leading by example.
I want you to picture this for a moment. We walk into a teen lounge a on a cruise. Normally a teen lounge would have cool music, dance floor, awesome beanbag chairs, soda mix drinks, and games like pool, air hockey, etc. Not this room. It's filled with items that resemble a preschool playground. Can you imagine teenagers wanting to hang out and swing on monkey bars they can still touch the ground on? The image makes you laugh, right? No teen would want to be there.
When kids-of any age-hear the term "Screen Time" they cringe. Why? They hear freedom being taken away. Your teens feel like they're being treated unfairly. Are they wrong? Yes!! How do we fix it? Shift their perspective!! Our teens don't see the cool stuff they can do inside our virtual playground we create for them by securing their stuff and setting boundaries. Instead, they see a false playground like the lounge scene I described above. This is why it's important for parents to "meet" them halfway. How do we do this?
Let's take an app that most parents forbid their kids to use-SnapChat. That's totally 100% fine. Now, instead of telling our kids they can't use that app, give them somewhere else to go. Point them to a teen app you're ok with them use. Something like Pinterest for girls or Plants Vs. Zombies for guys or GroupMe for messaging. We have to point kids in the direction we're ok with them going. You and I know that option was always there, but teens are like toddlers. They have a one-track mind sometimes that needs to be redirected to other "cooler" options you are ok with.
I know that as parents we are very well aware that our kids are human. However, I have seen countless parents criticize their kids for making a mistake-especially when it comes to technology. How many parents do you know sit down with their kids and let them make mistakes on purpose to show them what they should do instead? Not many or I wouldn't have my job. Hahaha. It's a very real truth though. Kids are going to make mistakes. A part of our teenager's job is to push and test the boundaries to make sure you're going to stick with them AND that they're safe inside the lines.
Chelsea I'm not going to let my kid do dangerous things. And you shouldn't!! There is a way to control what they are exposed to and practice under those conditions. I go over this in great detail in classes I teach like The Secrets To Raising Tech SMART Kids, my Family Tech Plan Outline and monthly in my Tech Behaviors Newsletter. There are ways to teach your children how to be prepared for questionable activities online without putting them at risk. Not doing so, leaves room for distrust to breed and relationships to be broke.
I could go on for hours about this, but these are the 3 basic principles that always set parents and teenagers at odds. If you're willing to take the suggestions into practice, I can promise you that it will make a world of difference in time. How long? That's up to you and your child. If you want help getting your teens on board with screen time, sign up for a phone call from me!!
Raising kids in a digital world doesn't have to be difficult. Learn the tools you need to enhance your power over technology so you can do what you do best: Be There For Them.