Are you having trouble getting your child to put down their phone? You aren’t alone. Many parents have this same dilemma and aren’t sure how to enforce the rules. After all, cell phones aren’t all bad. They can keep kids safe, facilitate independence and help with homework. Too much screen time, however, can get in the way of school, family time and sports.
The key is balance. Middle schoolers are going to use their phones because keeping in touch with friends is important at this age. The best approach is to provide plenty of opportunities where your child doesn’t feel compelled to use their phone. We have a few ideas to help you out.
Tips for Keeping Middle Schoolers off their Cellphones
Establish Reasonable Limits
It’s your job to establish healthy boundaries when using technology. Even though your tween or teen is tech-savvy doesn’t mean that they always need to be glued to their phone. Discuss reasonable limits that work for your family. Maybe that’s two hours total a day or no phones after 7 pm. When your child knows these expectations, they can learn to manage their time on their device.
Keep the Chargers in Your Bedroom
When it’s time to charge phones at the end of the day, require your kids to charge them in your bedroom. This way, the phones stay out of their rooms, and they won’t be tempted to check Snapchat or Instagram instead of sleeping or studying. Taking this simple step also reminds them that you can monitor their activity if you want to.
Encourage Face-to-Face Conversations
Being a parent or caregiver is a tough job, and you’re only human. Sometimes, it may feel easier to let your child use their phone in the car or at dinner. However, these are valuable opportunities to reconnect with each other. At dinner, ask open-ended questions like, “What was your most and least favorite part of the day?” When driving, listen to music you both enjoy or reminisce over your family’s favorite stories. Once you are accustomed to doing this, you’ll cherish these times together.
Practice What You Preach
If you spend all day on your phone, it’s going to be hard for your child to take you seriously when you set limits. Model the behavior you want your child to follow. Put down your mobile device at dinner, during soccer practice, while driving and so forth. Focus on being more present and leaving your phone for specific tasks, such as looking up directions or checking the weather.
Keeping middle schoolers off their cell phones isn’t about rejecting technology
Technology is something that we use every day in our lives, and it seems like kids are born knowing how to use it. Even though many middle schoolers have phones, they’re counting on parents and caregivers to set healthy boundaries that will keep them safe. Continue to make sleep, healthy eating and family time your priorities and model the behavior you expect. These steps, along with setting time limits, will help keep your middle schooler off their phone.
At Alsion Montessori, we believe that middle schoolers can benefit from today’s technology AND learn when it’s better to put their cellphones down and participate in family, school and other activities. It’s a principle we believe in and practice ourselves. Ask us about it!