How to Win Your Kids Back From Their Screens



Teenagers on cell phones.Someone asked me yesterday about what it feels like to have a teenager. It caused the corners of my mouth to lift into a smile. You see, it wasn’t just one emotion that I was feeling. Having a teenager means you’ll be delighted by watching them grow yet frustrated, all in one day. And the fights over the cell phone- UGHHHH! The electronic devices we all love to hate are not the main culprit, but they definitely don’t help the situation.

So, how do we prevail? Just this morning, my son and I disagreed over the presence of his cell phone at the breakfast table. Creating these boundaries takes repeated effort. It’s not what you want to hear, but hey, that’s parenting!

Tip 1: Set boundaries and rules when your kids can access electronic devices.

Yes, even if you hand over the iPad to your 5-year-old, restrictions are necessary.

For the younger kids, communicate the amount of screen time allowed, set a timer, and always have your child in front of you so you can easily see the screen. Your little ones can easily see a video of a cute little furry animal switch to something inappropriate within seconds.

For older kids, have a mutual place (ours is the kitchen counter) where electronics are to be stored and charged at night. For our 14-year-old, it is 10 p.m. And while we have slacked since the last school vacation, we typically do not allow video games Monday through Thursday nights. If grades are sliding, then changes to the 10 p.m. rule apply. A phone is a privilege. Beyond needing it to contact you, that’s it—a privilege.

Tip 2: Expect that the feedback from your teen will be that you have no clue what you are talking about.

Cell phone addiction is at an all-time high. Recently, a friend told me there is a year-long waiting list for the clinic at a local hospital to help kids with their cell phone addiction. Not shocking.

Tip 3: No phones allowed at the table.

The only caveat is if there is a topic we want to research that we are talking about during dinner, we must all consent. This goes for adults, too! Our younger son is the gatekeeper. He keeps us honest if we adults fall out of line.

Tip 4: Model the behavior.

As adults, we have a different need for our phones. But we can be honest that we are guilty of too much scrolling. I know I am. An example where I am guilty is watching TV and scrolling. Using my iPad to follow a recipe while prepping dinner is a good example of constructive vs. mindless uses of tech I have shown my kids!

Tip 5: Be prepared to hear what “all the other kids” can do.

Guess what? We all talk; most of us are dying for this type of community with boundaries. So be honest about your struggles! It’s actually helped us in our home.

We also recently introduced board game night, where we all sit without electronics for at least one hour a week. We are two weeks in, and while scheduling can be challenging, we have felt more connected as a family. Add it to your weekly pizza night! Also, have your child pick the game. We utilized the library to check new games out to try them before buying them! So convenient (and free)!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here