I recently read an article which i will attach at the end of this blog that discussed about how electronics, cell phones and social media are negatively impacting youth. I am in complete agreement with that. Every day I hear from children and adolescents about the bullying that goes on through text messages and on social media.
When I come to greet the teens in the waiting room, they are on their phones and have a hard time focusing in therapy because of the constant buzz of their notifications going off. I hear teens have issues sleeping because they are on their phones all night or waking up in the middle of the night to check their phones and what they have missed.
I don't blame the children completely as parents play a role in this as well. Many parents don't have a rule about electronics and many parents are just as bad with being on their phones and social media as their children if not worse. I have watched at restaurants families walking in with multiple electronic devices in their hands and families being on their phones for the entire dinner with little to no interaction with their family.
I feel that electronics are getting in the way of families bonding and interacting. At times I can definitely spend too much time on my phone, but I try to take breaks from it including during meal time at home or in a restaurant and at night and for periods of time throughout the weekend. Recently I deleted the Facebook app off of my phone so I can only access it on my laptop and I've been loving it and realized I'm not really missing anything by not checking it multiple times a day.
Some recommendations I have for parents are:
Have a family contract about the use of electronics that everyone in the family follows including the parents. Include times when electronics are not allowed to be used including during meal time. Use this time to talk to your children, ask questions about things going well and things that they are having a hard time with. Play a game such as Would you Rather? while out to eat or some other question game.
To find a good electronic contract for your family, check out Pinterest and find one that works best for your family and have a family meeting to review it together.
Have children leave their cell phones in a common area at night at a set time.
Don't check your phone when you wake up in the middle of the night. The screen brightness is going to impact your ability to not be able to fall back asleep.
Make sure you know your children's passwords to their phones and all social media accounts and check them regularly. I have had several parents find things that needed to be addressed with their children.
Most importantly be a good role model for your Children. If you don't want them on their phones all the time, don't be on your phone all the time. If you are friends with your child on social media accounts, watch what you post and what your comments are as your children will see them. If they see you arguing with someone or putting someone down for their beliefs, or posting inappropriate pictures you are teaching them that is OK.
If your children are going back and forth between two homes, co-parent and try to set the same expectations/rules at each house for electronics.
Some kids will have a hard time at first but they will get used to it and it will benefit your family in the long run.