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Teens Going on a Digital Diet

I get it. You’re saying to yourself right now, “are you kidding, my kids are married to their devices!” – phones, ipads, apps, games, you name it, they’re on it. This isn’t about taking away tech time completely from your children. It’s about limiting the time they’re spending using their digital toys. Yes, I use the term “toys” because we all know there’s been a substantial change in the way kids are using their devices. Digital based toys are undoubtedly advertised as educational, and parents are buying them, but I’m talking about replacing educational tools with communication tools.

Screen time, chat time, DM time (direct messaging) and online game time (sorry Fortnite) has taken over real human interaction time. So, the question is, how do you get kids to go on a digital diet? Do you go cold turkey? Do you start regulating their time? Considering we’re on the verge of a global health crisis, especially with teens being addicted, I’d say now is the time to communicate with your kids about the negative aspects rather than yelling, threatening and using all the hasty and emotional suck-driven consequences that are ineffective anyway.

One key to the solution is what I call being the “engaged parent.” The engaged parent recognizes his/her own focus and where the focus is going during time spent with children. To create a well-balanced family, we have to be well-balanced in our own lives. If that means holding off on our own screen time, then I’d say this is one crucial way to harness our kids’ interest in being engaged with us. Even a 4 year old knows when a parent is pretending to focus on him versus really being present.

A simple fact of steering away from digital addiction is learning how to be resourceful and knowing how to problem solve. This starts at a young age. You can’t wait until your child is a sophomore in high school to teach them about real-time communication and that owning these devices is not a rite of passage.

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