My son had his phone taken away for the last four weeks and it was awesome! I won’t get into the details of why we took the phone. We all parent differently and the reason has nothing to do with this post. If you know him, please don’t ask him about it or mention it. Here are a few of the changes his not having a phone made in our house. We actually spoke real words beyond, “Goodnight”, “I love you”, and “take out the trash”. Some of those conversations happened at the table because he wasn’t hurried to get back on Instatwitbookflix. His headphones came off and he actually spent time with his sister. He had time to go for a run and watch shows or play games with the family. Despite the peace and joy the phone ban brought to our family, I must point out that there was some begging, pleading, and downright annoying pestering lobbied for said phone’s return on a daily basis. Now he has it back and I’m doing my best to think of another plausible reason to take it away.
As we get ready to begin a new series in the youth room about stress and how trusting God can be a game changer, I want to share an article detailing the pressure our 24 hour connectedness may be placing on us that the good people at Orange shared with me from their Parent Cue as part of the xp3 curriculum series.
Do you think your teen is more stressed than you were at his or her age? According to CNN’s Kelly Wallace, most parents would say, “Absolutely”. In her article, SOS for Stressed Out Teens on CNN.com (http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/05/living/teen-stress-overscheduled-parents/), Wallace suggests that, along with heightened academic stakes and overscheduled lifestyles, social media may add to the expectations that leave teens feeling stressed.
Today’s teens, unlike when I was growing up, can now compare their academic performance and everything else about their existence to other teens 24 hours a day through updates on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, you name the social network, and that only increases the stress.
“Back in the day, we got a break from our peers after school and on the weekends, but now kids are on social media all day long,” said Linda Esposito, a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist in Los Angeles and host of a blog on psychotherapy called Talk Therapy Biz.
Social media and the constant connectedness of technology has no doubt changed the game for our students and added to the stress they experience. And, there’s no reason to believe that the constant “ping” of notifications is going to slow down anytime soon. So, as parents, it’s more important than ever that we help our students learn to cope when they feel anxiety. Tweet That A few ways to make sure this happens?
Model healthy behavior. As parents become more proficient with technology, more of our own anxieties come from being connected to work 24/7. If you catch yourself being “mentally elsewhere” while spending time with the family, intentionally turn your device off and let your student know why you’re doing it.
Take breaks from technology. There’s something about the buzz of a new notification that feels urgent even when it isn’t. As a family, try taking breaks from technology. It doesn’t have to be for long periods of time, but just an hour of real “connectedness” to each other can help manage stress levels and reset students’ anxiety.
Sometimes the best tool for managing stress is to take a time out. Try having a disconnected dinner with your family.
Once a week, at the beginning of dinner, have everyone drop their mobile devices in a basket, including the parents. It’s a symbolic way of saying to your student, “This time is important. And I’m all here”.
If you like what you’ve read you can get connected to a wider community of parents at www.orangeparents.org.
Are your children more pleasant to be around when they’re grounded from electronics? Please share your stories in the comment section. Remember, we all parent differently so I ask you to stick to your ideas or experiences and withhold any soapbox rants about how a person “should” or “shouldn’t” parent.