The sight of teenagers on cell phones and tablets has become nearly epidemic. In every generation, a new gadget or fad or invention is introduced. While cell phones and the internet have made communications and information gathering rapid fire, they have also come with a price. It’s frighteningly frequent that we see young mothers using gaming devices as babysitters. Young brains are not wired to process this much screen time. The most critical component of young brain development is creativity. That means using mind and body to explore. Passive game playing or video watching does not stimulate creativity.
Consider the demise in direct communication after hours spent gaming or surfing social media. Studies have found that the more time spent on social media, the lonelier teens tend to feel. With all the great parties and events documented via video and photos, it’s easy to imagine that everyone else is having a grand, adventurous life filled with wonderful friends. It’s hard enough being a teenager without that kind of pressure added on.
As parents, engage your teenagers in conversation. Set limits and boundaries on cell phone use. Create an environment that’s safe and welcoming for dialogue. Take your teenager clothes shopping (get discounts for Express from Groupon Coupons), to a fun dinner. The point is to spend time with them. If you’re not engaged in their life – they won’t reach out to develop a strong relationship during these years of transition. It’s pretty difficult to truly convey your feelings when you’re limited to forty characters or less on a cell phone. Teenagers in every generation simply want to belong, be included and heaven forbid, not be different. The cell phone obsession is contagious and rampant as a result. The fear of being left out and missing out is real.
Take the steps to re-engage your teenager. Find out what interests them beyond screen time and help them explore and develop passions. This, more than any electronic device, will help them develop the sense of self confidence and satisfaction. They are longing for relationship and parents have the maturity and tools to help develop them – if they use them. It’s also critical that parents set the example by also putting away the cell phone!