It’s important to show your teen how to disconnect from technology. Do a detox from a device. Try detoxing by choosing a night of the week and not using electronics. Make it a routine each week. Make sure that you, as the parent, are also participating. This will give their brain (and yours) a much needed reset. A detox is hard, so consider starting with a 30 minute detox then increase gradually. Trust me, your teen will find other ways to stimulate their brain without a device. Over time, they will become less reliant on technology and become increasingly well-adjusted to our technological world.
I know this is easier said than done. As I was writing this, I realized that I left my phone in my husband's truck. The very same truck he drove away in this morning. I keep stopping to check my phone, but it’s not here. It is a weird feeling; it’s almost like a part of me is missing. It’s funny – I never felt like that with my cordless phone from 1995. It just wasn’t as addictive. My cellphone is like a bag of Doritos for me...I cannot have them in the house because I cannot stop at just one! I keep going back to the bag in the pantry until it’s gone. Usually within 48 hours. My husband buys them for me on my birthday or Valentine’s day, and every time the same thing happens. I have no control when it comes to Doritos. Our devices are starting to hold that same sway over us. They can be very addictive. We use our devices when we are bored, when we are happy, when we are sad, when we wake up, when we work, when we book trips, etc.
When I was teaching my daughter how to drive, she never knew the directions to get anywhere. At age 15 or so before she got behind the wheel, I made a certain discovery. While I was driving, I would ask her to tell me which direction we needed to go to get to the grocery store. She wouldn’t know. I thought, “How can that be?” She didn’t know how to get to a lot of the places we go to regularly. That is when I realized that she never pays attention to where we are going because she is always looking at her phone. Frankly, I was shocked! I remember thinking that she is missing out on so much when we drive, including the rivers, trees, birds, cars, and people. How sad. I finally had to say, “Stop looking at your phone when we drive. Pay attention to the road and the other drivers around us.” Before she got behind the wheel, she learned the rules of the road by looking away from her phone. We required her to tell us many rules and directions before she was allowed to drive. Encourage your children to put their phones down in the car and pay attention to the world around them.
What I have learned: Stop! Stop! Stop! Take a break; you will survive for one hour, one afternoon, or one day without it! Model this self-control for your kids. Putting your phone down and looking around really opens up the whole world.