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Friday, April 19, 2024

KidsMatter 2 Us – Building healthy cell phone habits in tweens and teens

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Do your teens suffer from “nomophobia,” or the fear of being without their phones? Classified as a behavioral addiction by researchers, the effects of phone addiction are as debilitating as those from drugs or alcohol: sleep deficit, inability to concentrate, anxiety, reduced cognition, stress, loneliness, insecurity, impaired relationships, poor grades and other psychological disorders.

Here’s how you can help your children develop healthy cell phone habits:

  1. Model responsible cell phone use. Demonstrate healthy cell phone use by monitoring your own use and becoming more purposefully engaged in life. Suggest a class, sport, or volunteer opportunity to your student and try to involve them, and you, in activities where a cell phone cannot be used.
  2. Be upfront about what cell phone addiction is. Discuss the effects of constant notifications, and the anxiety and depression that come from continually watching others’ lives, rather than living their own. Helping students understand the intentionally addictive nature of many apps puts them back in control.
  3. Collaborate on cell phone rules for the family. Establish technology free times, and a “no phone” rule during meals. Limit screen time before bed and turn off notifications to eliminate the alerts that trigger an addictive need to check a new post. Work together to establish rules that make sense for the family and have everyone stick to them.
  4. Set consequences for inappropriate cell phone use. Cell phones are a necessity, but Smartphones are not. If your teen cannot responsibly limit cell phone use, consider downgrading the data plan or providing a cell phone that does not support gaming or social media sites.

It’s important to reflect on cell phone use, acknowledge unhealthy dependence if it exists, and make changes as needed. See the KidsMatter website (kidsmatter2us.org) for healthy alternative activities for teens.

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Nina Menis
Nina Menis
Nina M. Menis serves as CEO & Executive Director of KidsMatter. Nina grew up in Naperville and enjoyed raising a family in Naperville. Nina has worked in advancement for both public and private P-20 educational institutions and area nonprofits for more than 30 years. Contact Nina (pronounced nine-eh) at nina@kidsmatter2us.org or (630) 864-3974.
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