Technology is an integral part of our day-to-day lives; while it can be a helpful tool for learning, it’s important to set appropriate boundaries for technology use. This is especially important for teens, who often seem more attached to their smartphones than any other member of the family. The following tips can help families set smart boundaries for teens and technology use.
1. Restrict televisions, computers, and tablets to common areas. Keeping technology in the common areas of the home allows parents to directly monitor what their teens are viewing, streaming, and sharing – as well as how much screen time they’re actually getting. Restricting technology to the common area also helps prevent sleep disruption by ensuring no unauthorized late night screen time is taking place.
2. Parents are allowed passwords. While many teens view sharing their passwords with their parents as a violation of their privacy, it’s an extremely important way to ensure they are being safe online. Periodically checking their devices or accounts ensures they are not engaging in negative online behaviors such as sexting or cyberbullying. Likewise, it allows you to monitor the apps and content they stream directly to their phones.
3. Confiscate the phone. Establish a time when the cell phone is handed over for the night. Doing this keeps teens sleep patterns from being disrupted by all night texting, gaming, or scanning social media. Likewise, it helps prevent inappropriate late-night messages. Teens are far less likely to call or text at 2 am if they know a parent might intercept it.
4. Model boundaries with technology. Parents are often just as attached to their smartphones and tablets as their kids. When it comes to tech use, many kids learn behavior based on what their parents do – not what they say. Turn off and put away devices during meal, homework, or family time; this includes turning off the television, even when it’s just on in the background. Likewise, limit phone use when in the car and never text and drive. Showing teens you can relax and have fun while unplugged will allow them to more likely to follow the same behavior.