Could Your Teen Benefit from a ‘Digital Detox?’

Could Your Teen Benefit from a 'Digital Detox?'

Even if you can remember a time when cell phones were a luxury and not a necessity, you may not realize how much things have changed in regard to phone use since the advent of the smartphone. Smartphones have been integrated into everyone’s lives almost seamlessly. Today’s teenagers have grown up with them as a fact of life, and even their parents rely on their phones. It’s easy not to notice when an unhealthy dependence on digital content has developed. The results of a digital detox could bring this dependence into sharp relief. Take a look at what you need to know about putting your teen on a digital detox. 

It’s Not About Taking the Phone Away

You don’t have to pry your teen’s phone away from them to encourage healthier smartphone use. 

You might feel almost as much anxiety as your teen about the possibility of taking their smartphone away, even for a short period of time. No one is denying that smartphones and other digital devices have some valuable and important uses. The ability to communicate with your teen no matter where they are can give you peace of mind while allowing your teen necessary independence. With the absence of payphones and even home phones in many places, a smartphone can also be an important safety tool for your teen. And there are educational uses for smartphones that your teen can benefit from – many teachers even use them in the classroom. 

With all of this in mind, you may not want to remove your teen’s phone entirely, even if you have concerns about overuse. But you don’t necessarily have to. 

Setting Boundaries and Limits

Instead of taking your teen’s phone away, which can be an extreme action, consider having them delete certain apps for a period of time. In particular, time-sucking social media apps like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter should be on the chopping block. During the digital detox, you may also want to collect your teen’s phone and other devices while they’re at home. 

For example, you might challenge your teen to spend a week not using any apps that aren’t necessary for educational purposes and putting their phone in a basket in a common room in the house when they’re at home. During that week, they’ll have access to the smartphone and other devices when they need them – when they’re away from the house or doing homework, for instance – but will need to find other ways to fill their time otherwise. Help your teen succeed in their detox by being prepared with some family activities, books, games, and other things that your teen can do during the time they would normally spend swiping screens. 

Talk To Your Teen

Staying informed about what your teen is doing will help you implement smartphone rules that work for them. 

It’s important to talk to your teen about why you think they need a detox, and what you’re trying to accomplish. Make it clear that this is not a punishment, but an attempt to help them learn to set healthy digital boundaries for themselves. Because your teenager may be tempted to cheat – for example, by surreptitiously re-downloading apps that you asked them to delete – have a plan in place to monitor their progress and let your teen know that you will be monitoring them. 

Keep checking in with your teen during their detox period. Show solidarity by limiting your own smartphone use during the same time – stick to only using necessary apps and try to avoid answering work emails or texts during family time. Toward the end of the detox period, talk to your teen about changes they may make in their smartphone use going forward. Maybe they won’t feel the need to re-download every deleted app, or perhaps you and your teen can agree to a happy medium on screen time limits. 

Parental monitoring software can help you oversee your teen’s digital detox and enforce healthy boundaries and time limits on your teen’s digital device use. To find out more about how parental monitoring software can work for you,  get our free trial.