Ah phones! As a school teacher they can be the bane of my existence. I see them sucking energy and attention from my students and I believe they are an addictive vice for many.
I have experienced the same myself, although not growing up with this I can easily focus on study or work or spend time in nature for hours without the phone in sight. I’m not sure many of my students could say the same.
As someone who runs an online business, I value the connection and communication that this technology offers, for example connecting with you through writing these blogs.
I follow lots of inspirational people and companies on Instagram and Facebook and I'm also subscribed to some great blogs, however I can sometimes use this as an excuse for excess scrolling time.
For many teens they aren’t being inspired by the material coming at them through their phones. Unfortunately bullying and negative comments are the norm and unlike days past (only very recent days past) going home doesn’t mean getting away from the bully. The bully can follow you everywhere.
“Why do teens keep checking their phones if they know the bully could be there?”
The same reason as the rest of us. They are craving approval, recognition, and connection.
Do they have more followers since last time they checked? How many people have liked their most recent post? Has that boy they liked message them?
They are checking because they crave the positive but are then exposed to the negative.
Ban the phone altogether? In the classroom yes. There are some great educational tools that can be useful but these can be accessed on computers that have social media blocks.
Until the addiction is under control, take away the temptation. It’s like not having cookies in the cupboard if you have binge eating issue (been there!!!)
But no phones altogether altogether? This may be unrealistic.
It’s the same reason overeating can be so hard to break free from. You always need to eat something so you can’t get rid of all the food in the house!
So, here are my 3 tips for your teen to have a healthy relationship with social media:
1. Give them praise, recognition and celebration. Compliment them on what they’re doing well. Notice when they do something of good character. Look for opportunities to honour their strengths and gifts. If they feel inherently valued and respected they’re less likely to be looking for that from somewhere external, for example basing their sense of worth on how many followers they have.
2. Help them identify their supports and connections. Often they’re craving a feeling connection from social media because they feel like they don’t have enough already. Truth is that connection is already there for them, it’s simply overlooked. Teach them to identify who and what supports them, to feel grateful for them and to really feel into and experience that sense of support and connection. This truly gives them what they’re searching for, but never going to get, with constant social media.
(I realised the importance of this recently when a friend sent a beautiful love filled message and instead of allowing myself to receive that and really feel it, I felt empty again immediately and started craving more. Once I noticed this I took a moment to receive and experience the love, gratitude, and connection of this message and felt satisfied. So connection is available through social media but we must take the time to experience it fully!
3. Structure. Now this will be the most challenging for your teen and for you as a parent and I recommend doing this yourself first before suggesting it to your teen. Limit your social media usage. Create a routine of only checking once or twice a day and have the occasional day or weekend completely unplugged. Twice a day is more than enough. Nothing urgent happens in between.
I also recommend leaving the phone at home during school time if possible!!
If you and your teen have followed the first two tips, this last one will be a lot easier.
Imagine how much time and energy can be freed up for other things when you choose to do this, and how much more connection you will feel!
If you would like some support and strategies to establish strong healthy boundaries in your relationships sign up to my FREE 5 day Mindful Mums ecourse HERE.