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Teens and phones

There isn't a parent I meet socially or attending my psychotherapy practice who doesn't have concerns about their teenager's phone use.


The smartphone has become like another limb for most teens and it can feel almost impossible to set boundaries around the amount of time teens spend online.







A barrier to communication in the real world (we all know how engrossed in a screen a teen will be and the difficulty of trying to talk to them if they have a phone in their hand), the phone allows your child to have continuous contact with the world outside of your home in an unprecedented way.


There is now the potential for enormous outside influence on your teen's development where in the past the family's values were the main influence. Why is it important to set limits on your child's access to their phone?


Over the past 17 years working with teens and as a parent myself, these are the main areas of concern I see:

  1. Your teen is at school all day with their friends. They do not need to be in contact 24/7. Think back to your own teen years- home was a refuge from the outside world. Home needs to be the place where they can be themselves, without any pressure to be contactable or engaging online.

I recommend a cut off time of approximately 7pm for phones for teens where their phone is brought downstairs. This allows them a few hours to unwind before bed. They may initially complain of being bored but will find their interests again.



2. Sleep disruption: Many is the nasty comment posted on Snapchat stories at bedtime.

To avoid your teen being dragged into online arguments or bullying, the break from the phone at 7pm means avoiding any unnecessary stress and drama late at night.



3. What are they watching? A teen in a bedroom with access to the entire internet is inevitably going to be sent a video or image you would not want them watching or will look at pornography, for example.


Allowing a teen access to their phone with you in the room is sensible and they are unlikely to seek out any information you would disapprove of.


Teens are highly suggestible as their brains and bodies develop and the confusion caused by watching videos on gender and sexual orientation, for example will cause a vulnerable teenager anxiety.



4. Being on technology displaces other valuable learning:


What is your teen NOT doing because they are on their phone 24/7?


I'm sure you can remember your child loving art or baking or playing with the dog outside or kicking a soccer ball around with friends or simply chatting to you in the kitchen before the phone arrived. Valuable social skills are not developed by being on a phone all day.

Though it may seem difficult, setting a limit on your teen's screen time will be doing them and your family a huge favour in the long run.


You won't be popular with your teen for enforcing a new boundary but your job as a parent is to protect your child's wellbeing by being a parent and not their best friend.


Once they are eighteen or gone to college, they will be adults who can choose for themselves. Present the boundary as wanting to do what is best for their wellbeing by giving your teen time to relax and unwind after school in the safety of home, without needing any contact with friends.


Remember also to set an example by not being on your phone yourself.


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To book an appointment for you or your teenager, go to: https://www.nicolahogg.ie/book-online or text 087-6836922

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