A mere three decades ago, digital technology and computers were remote privileges of the elite as exclusive business tools, academic helpmates and scientific instruments. Only high-end businessmen and companies relied on mobile car phones, and these archaic devices were often welded into limo and vehicle consoles. Fortunately, all that changed.
We all agree technological advancements and accessibility provide us ease with life, affordable communication and information at our fingertips. We have more options to connect with each other than ever before: video calls, text messages, social media posts and updates. We can book travel and experiences ourselves for a fraction of past costs. It is hard to imagine life without our devices. Yet, we once survived without them and must realize we still can.
The original purposes of home computers and cell phone “family plans” were:
- to give parents the option to easily transfer their work overloads to home rather than stay late at the office night after night,
- to manage household affairs, records and budgets more efficiently,
- to support small businesses with tools to become more competitive and productive,
- to encourage academic achievement with tools to reinforce and supplement school day learning at home,
- to remove any middleman, delay or inconvenience from a direct line of communication between parents and children.
Rest assured, technology can still serve these higher purposes! Nothing has changed except our relationships with our computers, cell phones and other devices. We have lost sight of their intended functions in our lives, and given them powers they don’t deserve.
Our exciting but reflective therapeutic programs are a start to breaking technology’s hold on young lives. Parents, however, are our most important resource in help for teen addictions. When you commit to a plan to manage digital influences in your home, you automatically reinforce the sensible perspectives and positive behaviors our programs aim to inspire.
Be the Change
You will have a difficult time gently coaxing teens away from their screens if you are always staring at yours. A “Do as I say, not as I do” attitude from parents will only confuse teens, or make them defiant. First, evaluate your own digital behavior. Plan to eliminate these habits now:
- setting your smartphone down at meals so you can catch every update and alert,
- texting while driving,
- working on your laptop or tablet while in bed.
Try these more appropriate and safer alternatives instead:
Alarm Clocks and Lights Out
- leading a lively family talk or delivering family updates during meals,
- activating one of the many “I am driving now” smartphone features and apps, to shunt social media and text alerts until you are immobile,
- completing work in a home office area and designating your bedroom a “device-free” zone.
It is time for a change when your teen’s social media updates, text messages, IMs, chat notifications and video calls dictate their sleep and waking cycles. Each individual’s schedule is unique. Your teen can’t continually adjust to the countless schedules of friends and associates who may want to reach out when it is most convenient for them.
Two old fashioned devices are quite useful in managing a constant digital imposition on normal rest, sleep and body rhythms: an alarm clock and a light switch. Our bodies are actually already quite accustomed to responding to both. Use these tried-and-true signals to wake up and fall asleep to regulate your home’s digital cycles as well.
- Set a “lights out” time for common areas and bedrooms and adjust this time according to children’s ages, if necessary.
- Disallow smartphone, computer and tablet accessibility before alarm clocks go off in the mornings.
- For especially addicted users, set an alarm clock well before bedtime to signal time to focus on last-minute homework and chores as well as prepare for the next day.
- When online pornography, sexting and other hypersexual digital behaviors are the culprits, remove devices from teens’ possession entirely once the lights go out, as they may arise when everyone else is sleeping to indulge their addictions.
Today’s tech-savvy boys and girls figured out to delete browsing histories to hide their online porn site visitations, or sign in as a different user to access less-restricted browsing options under other identities.
You can easily block pornography and other explicit content from the family’s desktops, as well as individuals’ computers and laptops. Open DNS Family Shield is just one service you can use to filter websites, block URLs, and detect sexually-explicit pages before they load. You can also explore the “Network Settings” division of the Control Panel to set high bars for which sites any teen’s laptop and tablet browsers can enter, and follow similar procedures on their cell phones.
If all else fails, you may have to pay. Multiple software programs give you help for teen addictions by automatically imprisoning pornography through a constantly updated list of banned sites, unprecedented detection settings and vigilante filter systems.