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Benefits of a Digital Detox for Teens

Your teenager has probably spent lots of time online this summer. You might be noticing that her level of connectivity has become problematic since the school year has begun.

Does this resemble your teen’s routine? At the end of each day, she sets a morning alarm on her iPhone and then checks her Instagram one last time before turning in. Several hours later: the smart phone alarm goes off and before she gets out of bed, she opens the Insta first thing to see what she missed overnight. Then, and only then will she start her day.

How Cell Phones Hold Teens Back
Disrupts schoolwork

This routine can sidetrack teens and interrupt their studies.

Affects Sleep

It can also affect their sleep. Common Sense Media indicated that 68% of teenagers keep their phones by their beds; in fact, 29% of teens keep their phones in their beds with them! They’re worried about missing out on texts, calls, or other notifications during the night.

Lack of face-to-face time

Technology can also interrupt relationships and normal social interactions. Parents should insist that their teens have an understanding of cell phone etiquette. One useful starting point can be a parent-to-child cell phone contract that establishes guidelines as to where and when your teen can use his or her phone.

Is a Digital Detox Needed?

There is, however, another facet of responsible phone use that many parents are becoming more aware of – teens should take time off from technology.

What if you, along with your teen, decided to put away your cell phone for a set time frame on a prearranged period?

Pick a time

It might be challenging during the week, when they need to be digitally connected in order to complete their homework. The weekend is an ideal time. It could be spending a Friday night with everyone’s phones and laptops powered off. Or a full weekend without of tech gadgets. Whichever it is, your entire family stands to benefit from a digital detox.

Take the leap

While it might be difficult to get your teen to agree to separate from his or her devices, a digital detox quiz can quickly evaluate the need. This true/false quiz prompts you to answer statements like “You feel anxious about the next time you’ll be able to use your phone or computer,” “When you wake up in the morning, the first thing you reach for is your smart phone,” and “You have walked into a wall, pole, pothole, or other objects while looking down at your phone.”

After answering 21 questions, your teen might receive a recommendation to undergo a digital detox. Encourage your teen to be honest when answering – we’re all responsible for our actions, no matter how old we are.

Recall the earlier example of the teen; her final thoughts before falling asleep are of texts and notifications, and her first impulse when she wakes is to open the Facebook app on her phone. It’s an unhealthy digital existence.

Concentrate on real life

Digital detoxing in the middle of a digitally-dependent world is an ideal opportunity.

Concentrate on what’s really important in life – personal relationships and real conversations – and not just the ones online!

11 Cyberbullying Facts is a global movement featuring millions of young people making positive change, online and off! You’ll find 11 facts listed below, along with sources can be found here. After you learn something, Do Something! Make the Internet a more compassionate place by anonymously reporting cyberbullying content online via our Shred Hate campaign, sponsored by ESPN, MLB, and No Bully.

  1. Approximately 37% of young people between the ages of 12 and 17 have been bullied online. 30% have experienced it several times.
  2. 95% of teens in the U.S. are online, and most access the Internet on their mobile device, making it the most common platform for cyberbullying.
  3. 23% of students indicated that they’ve said or done something mean or cruel to another individual online. 27% indicated that they’ve experienced the same from someone else.
  4. Girls are more prone than boys to be both cyber bullying victims and perpetrators. 15% of teen girls have been the target of at least four different kinds of abusive online behaviors, compared with 6% of boys.
  5. Approximately half of LGBTQ+ students encounter online harassment—a higher than average rate.
  6. Instagram is the social media site where most young people report encountering cyberbullying, with 42% of those surveyed encountering harassment on the platform.
  7. Young people who encounter cyberbullying are at a higher risk than those who don’t for both self-harm and suicidal tendencies.
  8. 83% of young people think social media companies should be doing more to tackle cyberbullying on their platforms.
  9. 60% of young people have observed online bullying. The vast majority do not intervene.
  10. Only 1 in 10 teen victims will tell a parent or trusted adult about their abuse.
  11. 4 out of 5 students (81%) say they would be more likely to intervene in instances of cyberbullying if they could report it anonymously.

Social Media Discussion Points for Parents

Just the Facts:
  • Social Media is not all bad or all good, how the kids use it is what matters.
  • Their decisions on usage have consequences, some serious sexting/legal.
  • Social media contributes to loneliness, loneliest generation on record.
  • Kids are losing the ability to develop and the know how to meaningfully connect with others.
  • How kids use social media elevates feelings of anxiety and depression, not simply because they use it but it’s what they are using it for and or exposed to.
    • Boys: Gaming, and not such a need to be seen/have a presence known.
    • Girls:  visual platforms, videos, and pictures.
  • Teens seek affirmation on social media, as when parents were themselves kids; however, the affirmation is given very quickly now.
  • Social Media usage is a privilege and not a right, must make sure kids are training and educated on the online world and have clear expectations of their usage and subsequent responsibilities.
  • The more things change the more they stay the same, just a different platform.
  • The Internet seems to have created a new way of doing old things, rather than being a technology that changes the manner in which people live their lives.
    • Relationships, socialization, popularity, flirting, etc.      
  • What kids are posting may not be really what they are feeling.
    • True feelings and or emotions may be hiding in plain sight.
  • When we know better, we do better.
  • Offline stress/issues carry over to the online world.
  • 70% of communication is not around actual words, body language.
  • Trend continues to move to visual effects over texting.   

Parent Involvement

  • Develop a plan around social media regulation with your kids.
    • I.e., setting time limits, putting it down at dinner table, time before bed.
  • Parents need to work with the kids on developing a healthy balanced view of what social media is and what can happen relatable to the real world.
  • Parents need to use their own examples of how social media has made them feel left out of things and that that’s OK, how they coped with that. Talk about not being included.
  • Parents need to model social media usage and behavior to be consistent with expectations of kids.
  • Parent need to talk to their kids about those other kids who may be left out and to teach kids to be thoughtful of those who may be left use.