Managing Teens on Devices: The Holiday Tech Wars
Well, brace yourself, parents, because the summer school holidays are in full swing. After we’ve all recovered from the shock that Christmas is done and there’s still a full month of holidays ahead, we need to compose ourselves and consider how to manage (or try to manage) our teens on devices. I call it the Holiday iTech War.
It’s here… the longest of all the school holidays. I can already see the maniacal twitch of fellow parents as we've breezed (?!) through Christmas yet, still have ANOTHER FOUR WEEKS TO GO. I'm 100% sure one thing causing this twitch is the ongoing war with our teens and pre-teens… over DEVICE USE.
I’ve already heard brutal tech war stories from other parents during this time (think 11hr Snapchat sessions, throwing things out of the car on the freeway and screaming fights in the middle of Coles).
I don't always get it right (HA!) - but I do lean on the wise words of Thomas Edison who famously said "I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won't work" - and I think parents managing the digital struggle with their kids can 100% relate.
But in those epic failures, I have found the following FOUR 'P's' have worked well for me*:
(*When I give a shit enough to enforce it - sometimes having them on tech for a solid day is helpful/necessary when you work from home or just need some down time. Don't come at me - you do it too)...
Having a ‘family meeting’ around the use and management of their phone sets expectations early, makes sure everyone is on the same page and there is no confusion around what ‘holiday use’ of the phone looks like. The chat should include use times, potential late night use, morning use and other non-phone-related activities. Make sure the parentals/guardians have a "pre-pre" meeting alone though… to make sure you are a united force. If you show weakness, they'll smell it. I know we are half-way through, but late is better than never if it's driving you INSANE.
It’s going to be a constant battle of repeating yourself, reminding them of the rules and enforcing punishments. It’s not 100% their fault… their prefrontal cortex is still a mushroom.
3. (Phone) Prison
Yes. I'm aware this is actually TWO P's. Pffffttttt whatevs.
This is a prison for the phone. Not the teen. But I guess whatever goes in your house goes. As I said before, they have the ‘emotional’ and ‘impulsive’ part of their brain making most of their decisions, so best to take the temptation out of their hand and pop that phone in a nice lil’ safe prison overnight.
This will need to be discussed at the family meeting before the holidays start too - and encourage the kiddos to curate their own punishments… they’ll be more savage than you can ever be - and more likely to agree and stick to it if it was their idea… just remember that ultimately because they are under 18, the phone contract is in YOUR name. So if it comes down to it, you can threaten complete annihilation of the device (my favourite), pause or even terminate the contract.
Besides these, I recommend a solid screaming session outside for all parentals.
And a really strong drink... like REALLY strong.
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