Have a healthy relationship with your cell phone
On an average day, it’s hard to go more than a few minutes without seeing someone’s face buried in a smartphone – that is if you take the time to look up from yours.
Cell phones were not created to be inherently bad. They can be extremely beneficial when used in moderation, but experts say the problem is that many teens and their parents have trouble figuring out how much is enough, and it’s not often determined until phone use is excessive.
Overdependence upon your smartphone can become a difficult habit to break.
“Parents, be aware of the dangers of over-reliance on phones and set limits on your children’s cell phone use early on,” says Sarah Katula, advanced practice nurse in psychiatry at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill. “By setting limits at a young age, parents can develop healthy habits for the rest of their child’s life.”
Unplugging can be difficult, especially for a generation of kids and teens that grew up in front of screens, but disconnecting from mobile devices can be beneficial in many aspects of life, including sleep, school and stress. Research has shown that spending less time on a smartphone each day leads to better sleep, higher grades and reduced anxiety.
Katula offers these tips to help reduce screen time:
- Replace down time during the day with rewarding activities that do not involve a screen. Some easy ways that adolescents, or anyone, can unplug throughout the day include reading a book, going for a walk or exercising.
- Put away handheld devices at least an hour before bedtime to allow your body to properly adjust itself for sleep. Take away your child’s phone at 9 p.m. each night.
- Encourage setting the phone aside during homework and study time so that the focus is solely on the schoolwork.
- Have a conversation with your teen about distracted driving. Car crashes are the primary cause of teen deaths, and distracted driving is a leading cause of car accidents across all demographics.
“Establishing specific ground rules around cell phone use is critical,” says Katula. “Rules should be made to encourage social etiquette, such as no cell phones at the table during meals.”
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