“Dinner is ready!” You yell out to the household.
Everyone comes and sits at the table, ready to eat, ...except your tween/teen.
You walk toward their room a little closer and announce again, “Dinner is ready, honey.”
No response again.
So you walk to the doorway of their room and there you see them on their phone, lost to the rest of the world.
Is this a problem? Is this normal teenage behavior?
Here Are 4 Questions to Help You Evaluate:
Question #1: Does Your Tween/Teen’s Phone Often Distract Them From Being Present With The Family?
Once you get your teen’s attention and to the dinner table, you see that right next to their plate is their phone. The family is talking, but your teen’s attention is somewhere else.
This is the newest in the “close but distant” phenomena that hits families every evening. “Close” because you are right there talking to them, possibly even doing something together. “Distant” because your teen’s mind is somewhere else completely.
Before we get our torches and pitchforks to attack smartphones, we need to recognize that this is not new for parents and their teens. It could be a book. A magazine. For my childhood, it was a Nintendo controller in my hands. Before that, ...teens would get lost in a Beatles album? Play jacks?
We have been seeing the medical research and reports for years now, smartphones and social media can lead to serious addiction. They can be distracting. They can be stress inducing. A simple Google search will give you plenty of articles, reports, and “doomsday” predictions.
Question #2: Does The Thought Of Taking Your Teen’s Phone Away, Whether For Discipline Or Detox Reasons, Terrify You?
I was in a coaching session with a couple parents last week and they were telling me about their teen’s unacceptable behavior. They told me, “Our teen is continually choosing to be on screens instead of studying, having family time or spending time with in-person friends.”
So then I asked the parents: “Have you considered limiting their screen time?”
The parent’s faces were visibly shocked by the question. Before they said a word, you could tell that taking their teen’s phone was not even an option for disciplinary action. The parent’s responded, “Oh my teen would kill me if I took away their phone.”
“My tween/teen would kill me if I took away their phone.”
-Parents in 2018
It would sound like an overly dramatic story if I was not there and looking at each of the parents in that moment.
Discipline had become secondary to their teen’s possession of the smartphone that the parents had bought and continue to pay for each month. Let’s just pause and soak in this story.
If you answered “yes” to this question, our Family Coaches at ParentingModernTeens.com are here to help you. We coach families everyday that are facing serious issues with their teen and their phone. (Check out our FREE webinar “How to Get Mature Teens Without Yelling, Stress, or Grounding”.)
Question #3: Is Your Tween/Teen’s Phone Providing Them With Emotional And Mental Support? Are They Co-Dependent On It?
We cannot forget this point: The teenage years are an accelerated season of physical and emotional changes, growth, mistakes, and new experiences as they grow into an adult. In this pressure-filled season of life, teens are looking for affirmation and support from wherever they can get it. From good places and bad places alike - support is support!
Everyday, I am coaching teens on their life and their habits. When we talk about tough times and dealing with stress, I ask, “What do you do to take care of yourself?” The most common answer I get, after “I dunno know”, is “go on my phone”.
One of greatest points of coaching teens is helping them to understand healthy self-care.
On the most basic level: they need a good life balance of eating, sleeping, and exercise. Even more so, good self-care includes a variety of great relationships and activities for support.
Question #4: Is Your Tween/Teen’s Social Media Experience Positive And Affirming?
This can be difficult for many to assess. Some parents choose to “Follow” or “Friend” their tween/teen to keep up with their social media life. Many have decided to use a “Phone Contract” with one of the points being that the parents have access to all social media accounts with passwords.
However you monitor (or don’t) your tween/teen’s social media experience, do not underestimate how influential their online experience can be for them. Some tween/teens simply are not mature enough to handle a phone. The device and social media can be too powerful for their developing mind and self-esteem.
It is a parent’s job to teach their child to be responsible. Each new growth stage in life brings new challenges which requires parents to grow their “Parent Toolbox”. To begin here, you need to evaluate the relationship of your tween/teen and their phone.
If you answered “yes” (and/or “no” to question 4), you may conclude that the phone is a problem for your tween/teen. Next steps could be to set limits on screen time or even take away their smartphone for a period of time.
If you need help with next steps, our Family Coaches at ParentingModernTeens.com are here to serve you and your family!
We can coach you in person or via Zoom, faceTime, Skype or over the phone.
Check out our FREE webinar “How to Get Mature Teens Without Yelling, Stress, or Grounding”.
What methods do you use to evaluate whether or not a phone is problem?
Comment and let’s discuss!
Paul Scholz, Family Coach
We Show Modern Parents How to Expertly Parent Their Modern Teen Into Maturity and Responsibility