“The last thing they need from us is to be shamed for trying to stay afloat on the only waters they’ve sailed.”
In a recent post, Three Reasons You Shouldn’t Call Your Teenager a Tech Addict…and 5 things you can do instead, Brad Griffin points out that addiction language can be damaging and desensitizing if we are not careful. He writes:
“Young people are growing up in a world where digitally-connected media forms are all around them. This is the only world they’ve ever known. They are trying to figure out how to navigate that world, and they also happen to be drawn like sponges to most of what the digital world offers. The last thing they need from us is to be shamed for trying to stay afloat on the only waters they’ve sailed.”
Like or not, the reality is this is the world they know and live in. It’s how they connect, communicate, explore, learn, relate, organize, etc. If we are not careful about how we approach this subject, we will shame our way out of this area of our kid’s lives. If this is an area we want to have influence and restriction around, then we need to be strategic about how we approach talking about something that is so much of the fabric of their lives it drives us crazy!
Think about the last couple of times you’ve talked to your teen about their technology usage. What type of language did you use? What was the tone of the conversation? How did they respond?
If you were your son or daughter, based on the last few conversations, would you want to talk more about the topic with you?
As much as it may pain you, if you will set aside your frustrations and take some time to come alongside your son or daughter to learn how they use it, what ways it brings joy into their life, what ways it can hurt them, and actually seek to understand — you will find yourself in a much greater position to influence and engage the topic in future conversations.
Not only that, but when’s the last time you looked in the mirror? In the post, A Quick Look in the Mirror, I wrote about the story of my daughter racing to bring me my phone as if I couldn’t survive without it. In that moment, I realized I was modeling the opposite of anything I hoped to be saying about technology in the future. My ship was sunk before we even started the battle.
Brad points this out by sharing,
For starters, parents can turn the mirror toward themselves and ask questions about what their own behaviors model for their kids.
According to the Common Sense report, nearly 80 percent of teenagers report checking their devices at least once hourly, but so do nearly 70 percent of parents. Kids agree something is amiss here. Nearly half agree that their parents are regularly distracted by devices when teenagers are trying to talk to them. Half of them also see their parents checking mobile devices while driving, and while two thirds say there is a “no device rule” at the dinner table, about a third say their parents are likely to break that rule during dinner. Finally, a third of kids ages 8-13 say they feel unimportant when their parents are distracted by their phones.
It looks like we might all need some help on this issue.
I highly encourage you to check out the rest of Fuller Seminary’s post here: Three Reasons why you shouldn’t call your teen a tech addict and five things you can do instead. With each of the 5 “instead’s”, they offer links to helpful resources.
We’ve also written on how to navigate this issue here – Get Off Your Phone! A Few Tips for Restricting the Use of Technology and here – Raising Kids in the Digital Age