Protecting your child’s digital DNA is understanding the impact that this age of technology has on our children, their children, and the future. We truly don’t understand the impact of technology and what implications the amount, type, and access to technology is going to mean for how our children interact with the world and each other. Navigating the world of technology for parents is even harder because we didn’t grow up with the same access, so we don’t understand our children’s experience and it is hard to keep up with everything new that keeps coming out. Staying up to date on the newest apps, devices, and access to information is can be daunting. Finding trusted resources, talking to your children all the time about technology, and keeping up with the changes is the best a parent can do in order to equip your children with the best way to handle technology.
Junior high kids are interacting with technology in unprecedented numbers. We don’t know how to anticipate the impact of the ease of access, the time spent with a screen, and the social implications for a number of reasons. Technology is changing faster than we can predict and keeping up with all of the emerging apps, games, and programming is getting harder and harder. One of the critical pieces to gaining a better understanding of how to help your teen is for you to develop and help them develop a solid understanding of their relationship with technology. When you can understand why they use technology, when they use technology and how they use technology, you can develop a better plan of how to deal with their use and/or misuse of technology.
When teens use their phones to cope with anxiety, depression, or any type of emotional distress, ask them to try 5 different coping strategies before resorting to their phone.
Help them understand that using technology to escape from the emotional distress only makes the distress worse and decreases their ability to learn how to tolerate distressing feelings.
They can try deep breathing, mindfulness, yoga, coloring, journaling, or taking a walk before reaching for the phone to deal with emotional distress.
Taking away their phone or device typically creates intense conflict and division between you and your teen, which is the last thing you want to do. Rather, understanding the use, setting up a plan to deal with feelings, and sticking to the plan will help them learn how to cope without escaping.