Having a teenager in your home is not unlike a war of attrition. It can feel like a constant battle wherein you need to fight for every single inch - and if you give an inch it can suddenly turn into a mile. Similarly, dealing with a teen can be explosive and volatile, and hurt much more than you’d expect. Good parents understand this, and also understand that it’s critical to pick your battles. Fighting about everything all day, all the time, is definitely a trap into which you can fall as parents of teens. But it will create hard feelings and a lack of love and trust in your relationship - ultimately giving you the opposite of the results you want.
Instead, parents should pick their battles carefully and let some things go. Here’s the difficult thing, though: what if something you choose not to fight becomes an issue? Social media and screen time tends to be a battle that parents decide not to fight. For one, it’s such a constant issue that if you choose to fight it can become a daily, even hourly occurrence. For another, it’s something that your teen feels VERY STRONGLY about, so the battle will get ugly and fast. Finally, it’s just not that big of a deal right? If you’re one of the parents who has chosen not to fight or get involved in their teen’s online time, you’re definitely not alone. But you also might be digging a pit too deep to escape.
Teens love social media, the internet, and screens in general. Many teens would spend all of their waking hours plugged in if they could. And that’s the problem! At first you may decide to just let them escape into their own little world online - only to find that within a few months they are online constantly and possibly getting involved in some serious danger. Too much time online can lead teens to become more comfortable with behaviors like cyberbullying, sexting, pornography, underperforming in school, and other issues. If those behaviors are already occurring, you may need to take another step to get professional help. Do you know what your teen is doing online? The more time they’re spending the more likely it is to be harmful to their character. Teen boys who get into trouble online eventually get in trouble in real life, and may need more assistance and intervention at a therapeutic boarding school.
Talking To Your Teen About How Much Time They're Spending Online
The first thing to do is to actually monitor their usage to figure out just how much time they actually are spending online. Watch their use of phones, ipads, computers, data, and other factors for a few days or a week. They may be surprised to learn how much time it actually adds up to be. Also do a full assessment of their grades and other responsibilities to see if focus needs to be turned elsewhere.
Once you have a full and accurate grasp of the situation, talk to your teen. Share your concerns and ask them what they’re doing online and why. Come to an agreement about appropriate use of social media and online time. Maybe they will leave their phone in the kitchen instead of taking in their room overnight, or they can have unlimited time after homework is done and grades are acceptable. It’s a much more effective solution if you can do it together.