health, teenage son
Comments 36

The simplest, most effective daily gift for you and your teenager

relationships, online dating, raising a teenager, over 50, positive ageing

How much screen time?

According to the Washington Post in 2015, teenagers spend an average of 9 hours a day looking at screens. NINE HOURS. (Children aged 8-12 are on about 6 hours). It’s 2017, so I’d guess the times are slightly higher now.

reducing screen time, over 50s, teenagers, hand drawn illustration, comics, bespoke

reducing screen time is good self care, for over 50s and teenagers #hand drawn #comics #screen time #teenagers @boneAndsilver

Adults are on approx 4 hours a day in their leisure time, but obviously more if they sit at a desk with computer in front of them. Here in Australia, we have a particularly high engagement with our smartphones; some estimates are up to 10 hours a day (Source: ABC News May 14 2016).

It’s simple: switch off the wifi

When my son was approaching his teens, and had been given his first smart-ish phone by his Dad’s family for Xmas (which I had no say in unfortunately), a wise friend with a son 7 years older than mine gave me this advice: no screens in the bedroom.

Brilliant. Don’t let them lock themselves away with TVs or laptops plus smartphones; some kids text and message each other at 2am on a school night.

We all need to be asleep at 2am on a school night!

And here’s an even easier action: just turn off the wifi.

reducing screen time, over 50s, teenagers, wifi, internet usage,

reducing screen time is good self care, for over 50s and teenagers #wifi #screentime #teenagers @boneAndsilver

I know, shocking concept isn’t it? But it’s actually easier than you think, as the ‘Off’ button should still function despite lack of use.

I was a really difficult teen myself: rebellious, yet also racked with anxiety and insecurities. My poor Mum had her own dramas going on (I realize now), with the menopause, a challenging full time job as a single Mum, and various health issues she kept from us.

So I felt ill-prepared for my own journey as the mother of a soon-to-be-teenager, and chose to undertake a two-day ‘Parenting a Teenager’ intensive through our local youth centre. I then did a 6-week course, meeting other parents once a week.

In a nutshell, this is what I learnt:

  1. Open communication is essential (sitting side by side in the car is good for comfortable connecting, especially with boys)
  2. Parents must accept they are no longer the centre of their child’s world, although the child will always be the centre of theirs (this is really hard, and I think a lifelong challenge)
  3. Firm boundaries are incredibly important in giving your teen a sense of what to push up against

And my absolute favourite (which I love so much that I just spent 2 hours hand-making this image):

parenting tips, over 50, teenage screen time, wifi access

Parenting a teenager, controlling internet access and screen time #wifi #teenager #over50 @boneAndsilver

You all know this already, yes? I could have filled this post with other statistics and references, or examples of negative health & social outcomes, but it’s all out there and easy to find.

What I’m interested in on this blog together is what we already know, in our bones. And the movement or action we can take to honour that.

All of us who are over 20 have already embodied a life without the internet; we know what it’s like to talk on a landline to one friend at a time, then to have to say goodnight and sleep till morning, before reconnecting on the walk to school or the bus trip.

But the teenagers in our lives haven’t felt this; we need to do right by all of us, and shut the damn wifi down.

Ours goes off at 9.30pm, 10 at the latest, and stays on later at weekends (very occasionally till 2am I admit. But that is certainly not a habit). However, it ALWAYS goes off, so that we get a chance to unplug.

I’m not saying it’s easy. But I do feel it’s Right. What do you think? Or more importantly, how do you feel…?

With gratitude, G x 

 

36 Comments

  1. What a good idea! Turn off the darn wifi!–Of course, with a phone, that may have limited effect, particularly with “unlimited” data. But if the rule of no screens in the bedroom is enforced, should work well. Yes, I use my devices a fair amount–a good tool. And limiting their use is important, and for kids, even more important Direct experience of the world, is essential, as well as learning that there is a whole lot more in the world that can wait then one might imagine. Its amazing how many problems solve themselves overnight. Go Mom!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I can see a couple of different sides of this, mostly based on experience with my 3. We have internet rules (we have access to everything they do, including passwords, for one), but outside of those rules, they pretty much have free reign. One is that everything else comes first; homework and chores. If those things are done, they are good. Grades must stay decent (not a problem for my two youngest) or you are going to start loosing privileges.

    I’ve always thought that these kinds of things would help them to learn personal responsibility. They can stay on late as long as they aren’t bears to get up in the morning and they are still doing well in school, but it is still their choice until the rules are broken.

    With my oldest, there was no rule we could set that he wouldn’t break, but those were his personal issues which became a huge other deal. My two youngest practically live on their computer (MC) and their phone (BG), but they maintain our boundaries with homework, chores, grades and getting up in the morning.

    MC has made us realize that kids today socialize differently (or at least some do) and that their online interactions are just as important as their in person interactions. He is very much an introvert so, I’m taking what I can get with that, but we do require some outside of school activity to have some in person stuff too. I guess, it all really comes down to the kid. Cutoffs work really well with some and just aren’t necessary with others. I’ve learned to parent to my kids needs rather than try to cookie cutter parent because my oldest taught me what works for one will not always work for another.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for such a long and thoughtful comment TJ. I agree that we need to treat each kid as unique, and it sounds as though you have great boundaries and insights with yours. I do believe we need a generalized un-plug from the internet though, and do need to retain our interpersonal skills rather than increase our keyboard speeds (have you seen how fast the young folk can text??). I guess I’m just expressing my own personal concerns and observations, and sharing what works for my son and I. Thank you for engaging so deeply with this post, G

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Its a tough call, because my kid does so much school work using the internet, and her extras often require internet. But honestly, my daughter is mot totally immersed in social media. She self regulates. When she’s really huts she takes insta off her phone, and she also puts her phone n do not disturb the first two hours when she gets home. Its a. Tough call

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think you’re right G and I intend to take the router now by 10pm. If I switched it off I couldn’t trust my elder son not to switch it back on. My provider has launched an app that allows parents to regulate wifi use from their phone. I’m doing that as soon as I free up some space on my damn phone!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a great idea, and a great service. Do it. I think it’s also symbolic, that we parents continue to set firm boundaries while our children are under our roofs, and hopefully instill some healthy self care as well, which includes good sleep. Thanks for commenting : )

      Liked by 1 person

      • It is, they are adorable. When he’s not watching, hubby and I are.
        And I know you’re right. He got hooked, I have to admit, so it was like a pacifier for him. Every time he’d get cranky, he’d point his litter finger to ‘his’ tablet. As of 2 days ago, to be precise, I started cutting down on Peppa. And the thing is, if he doesn’t see it, he won’t ask. So I have to hide it.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Don’t have kids so can only relate to this by observing my niece and my cousins’ kids. They do seem attached to those phones! But then so do all the kids. I was at our local train station in Claremorris the other day. Now, Claremorris is a small rural town in Co. Mayo. The type of place where you’d know a few people on the platform and even if you didn’t you pass the time of day with a stranger or at the very least acknowledge their existence. What I noticed was a very distinct behaviour pattern clearly marked by age.
    All the youngsters had the heads down. Everyone under, say, twenty-five was somewhere else. Even the ones in family groups. They didn’t even talk to each other! I couldn’t help wondering if this is the future. If, in twenty or thirty years no one on the platform in Claremorris will talk to each other.
    On a different note, I can’t let this one pass. Congratulations Australia on voting for MarriageEquality. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes yes yes: am so full of love and celebration this eve, thank you 🙏🏼
      Such a relief (even though it’s still not law of course). It was very distressing for a lot of people, particularly the young ones, so not surprising some of them ‘check out’ of day to day realities and disappear into their phones… thank you for commenting Jean, I love your words (I can hear the lilt of your accent I’m sure) 😊🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈G

      Liked by 1 person

      • I know that feeling of celebration. I was heavily involved in the campaign here in Mayo a couple of years ago. All the punsters said that Dublin and the cities would carry the Yes vote to victory but we, (Yes Equality Mayo), worked bloody hard to make a difference in the conservative western county we live. We were at the counting centre when the local results came in, 52 Yes, 48 No. We won the county and it was one of the most emotional and memorable days of my life. Enjoy these wonderful days. When it does come into law, you can celebrate again! Thank you for the compliment.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I burst into tears when Ireland got the yes vote; I am absolutely honoured to meet someone who was actually there, talking to conservative folk, trying to make the difference. You did it! And I salute you Jean 🙏🏼🌈❤🙏🏼

          Liked by 1 person

  6. There are times we agree to put our phones down and talk. When the other starts staring, we get the hind. No words are needed.

    I’m celebrating the YES win. Just thought I should mention. 🏳️‍🌈

    Liked by 1 person

    • Talking is a much underestimated skill, so well done for practicing 😊

      And YES YES YES, how good it feels! Thank you- am doing a post right now 🌈🙏🏼❤🌈❤🌈❤🌈

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I have a HUGE problem with how much screen time the kidlets that I nanny get. The dad is starting to take some drastic measures (like taking power cords and disconnecting TVS) but it’s still a little bananas. The kids love my iPad and my old phone so I’ve started to restrict usage. I bring them Thursday and leave them at the house until Saturday then I take them away again. The oldest just got an iPod for her birthday and is already on it all. the. time.

    One thing that I do like is that the internet can be turned off certain devices. Since they have Asian private school students living there, turning the wifi off completely isn’t really an option. BUT from the main computer, the mom can disconnect the internet from devices for certain time periods. So from 5-7pm, it’s not connected to the laptop the kids use. I think that’s pretty great. It does interfere with homework sometimes but we can always turn it back on if needed.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m not a parent, but it does sadden me to see so many people walking with heads down, thumbs engaged, on their phones, oblivious to the immediate world around them. Would like to think that if I’d had children I would be fairly strict with device usage. But on the flip side, just reading the suggestion of turning the WiFi off has made me have a mild panic attack! I may be addicted :/

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I love this post, Gabrielle – and really great guidelines for open communication. I learned a lot (and am still learning how to work with boundaries) Your image is fantastic. 🙂
    Many blessings,
    Debbie
    ps – I don’t have kids, yet I think the wifi rules def apply to adults too! Including me. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Brilliant! Agree with every word. When my daughter was in primary school pre-internet days, I wrapped the TV and put it in the garage. We lasted six months before it was brought back but I still reinforced the ‘no morning television’ rule on school days. She’s an adult in a professional job now but fondly remembers that time and, guess what, she is glad we did it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is a wonderful memory and discipline to have created, I love it! Thanks so much for dropping by and sharing that, it’s something to be proud of indeed. We need to take care of our young ones as best we know how 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Great post! Such a simple yet brilliant idea! Something I have been doing on a regular basis since I started writing textbooks. The internet is like chocolate — you can’t have just one. So it’s better to remove the temptation all together. 📲✅

    Liked by 1 person

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