If you are concerned about the amount of time your child is spending on his or her video game console, tablet, smartphone, or laptop, you are not alone. Technology addiction in teens is an increasingly prevalent issue. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, 50% of teens played video games “yesterday,” and 92% of teens report going online daily, including 24% who say they are online “almost constantly.”
If you suspect that your child has a problem with video game and/or internet overuse, abuse, or addiction, you may be able to help them with limiting screen time, depending on the severity of his or her use.
1. Establish Rules, Limits, and Consequences
If your child’s electronics use is getting out of hand, the first rule for limiting screen time is to make your expectations clear. Make sure to talk to your child while you are both calm and level-headed. Explain that there will be time limitations placed on electronics usage, and that there will be consequences for breaking the rules.
2. Talk to Your Child
Try and find out if there is something bothering your child or if there is a reason he or she is escaping into video games or the internet. You can start the conversation out with, “I’ve noticed you haven’t been hanging out with your friends lately and you’ve been playing lots of Xbox instead. Is everything ok?” While your teen may not tell you (or may not know) if anything is bothering them, it is important to show that you care.
3. Help Your Teen Find a Healthy Coping Mechanism
As discussed previously, many teens escape into the digital world as an unhealthy coping mechanism to help deal with negative emotions or to escape from the “real world.” While every teen is different, you know your child best. You can help encourage your child to engage in a healthy way of dealing with negative emotions. Some healthy coping skills might include:
4. Limiting Screen Time for Yourself
Make sure that your electronics use is under control and that you are using electronics at appropriate times. For example, if you are busy on your phone or laptop while your child is trying to engage with you or at the dinner table, this sets the tone that this is “normal” and even “okay”.
Download our free white paper, WIRED: Helping Your Teen Unplug from the Digital World, to learn more about limiting screen time and how to help with technology addiction in teens.