How to Help Your Teen with Their Technology Addiction

Jan 11, 2017

Addiction is real and to be taken very seriously. We all know this and as responsible involved parents, we’ve likely had discussions with our teens regarding addiction to drugs or alcohol. How many of us have had the conversations with our teens about addiction to technology? How many of us, as parents, struggle with a similar addiction?

Some signs are addiction include excessive use, emotional or physical difficulty being away from the “substance” and relationship problems. Approximately 36% of families with teens report daily arguing over screen time. The more time teens spend connecting with their screens, the less time they’re connecting with real life relationships, deepening their communication and empathy.

According to a recent study by Common Sense Media, 50% of teens feel addicted to their devices. Now these are the teens that are recognizing and admitting their addiction; consider what the actual numbers may look like?

Making a healthier balance

Technology is a very real, and often useful, part of your teen’s life. It’s unrealistic to expect to eliminate their interest in technology. So the question remains how do you help your teen strike a healthier balance?

Consider these 4 recommendations

  1. Set an example - If you’re telling your teen you’re concerned by the amount of time he/she spends on screens, then try putting yours down more too. Increased awareness of screen time in general will be beneficial for the family dynamics.
  2. Engage your teen in conversation - attempt to combat the effects of overexposure to technology by engaging them in thoughtful conversation. Ask what they’re reading online or listening to and translate it to a real life interaction.
  3. Establish boundaries - remember your teen is still developing and setting limits for themselves may be something they struggle with. Boundaries are important and necessary for most people. Establish “no technology zones” in the house (i.e., dinner time, between the hours of 4-6 pm, an hour before bed, etc.)
  4. Educate - help your teen understand the risks and potential harm overexposure to technology can have. Our environment influences our development and if our teen’s environments are primarily technology driven, this begs the question of what impact that could be having, both cognitively and socially.

Parental control software, such as Net Nanny can also offer another level of confidence when talking with your child regarding teen addiction. This technology can help to monitor time and content of online behavior. This can provide a strong jumping off point for this important conversation with your teen.