Your kids can’t seem to put their phone away? They’ve broken some rules? Easiest solution? Just take it away. Best solution? Maybe not.
The newest study from Common Sense Media, suggests taking teen’s phones away as a method to control use or as a consequence for breaking rules may in fact not be such a good idea.
Parents – I know this is really hard to figure out. I know you are getting lots of mixed messages too. Watch for predators, watch for hate speech, watch for inappropriate content, social media is why our youth are depressed and anxious, etc. You’ve been told to be afraid of too much screen time and the long term impact of screens but in schools and as a way to stay connected (not even necessarily to socialize) screens are the norm. Homework is on a computer, class is on a computer, your kids teachers and coaches communicate on FB and Instagram. Hours in front of screens are nearly unavoidable.
Social Media Has Benefits & Risks
The good news is young people are far more likely to say that using social media makes them feel better rather than worse when they’re depressed, stressed, or anxious, and the number who report that has substantially risen since 2018. And young people are starting to be significant users of digital health resources like meditation, nutrition and fitness apps.
So now what? I’m all about harnessing.
1) Ask yourselves this: How will we as a family extract the positives and minimize the negatives of digital technology? This includes gaming and platforms like Discord.
2) Turn more attention to HOW best to use this powerful tool instead of only HOW MUCH it is being used.
3) Teach critical thinking, teach curating, and teach self-awareness around digital use.
Screens are not going away and they will continue to grow in use. You can’t and won’t always be there to monitor and intervene. That’s ok… and it’s important that we are working with our children to help them learn how to moderate and maintain healthy technology use.
Having trouble navigating that? Having trouble figuring out what to do instead of taking the phone or games away? Ask for help. We are here.
Below I will list some key findings from the Common Sense Media report on Coping with COVID-19: How Young People Use Digital Media to Manage Their Mental Health.
- Not surprisingly, many teens are currently in the midst of a significant mental health crisis.
- Social media platforms have become even more important to young people for support, community, and self-expression over the past two years, especially for those experiencing depression.
- Many are using social media and digital health resources to cope.
- Many report finding relief and support by having a place to share their pain.
- Many are connecting with health professionals on their phones.
- For many it is a life line.
Please note I am in no way suggesting abandoning time limits or that it is a good idea to be online all the time, I’m suggesting the driver’s license model, the tech like you eat model and the mentor not monitor model.