Help is on the way!!!! Helping your teen to develop self- control will not be easy. I won't lie to you. But if you can wait ten years for a thank you from your teen now a young adult who finally gets how important it was to be "shown the light", it will be a thank you worth waiting for. You wouldn't let you kids eat junk food 24 hours a day, or watch TV all day, or any number of other things that as an adult you know is detrimental to development, NO, you stand up to those kids and do what you gotta do. For some reason parents are terrified of doing this with texting and facebook. JUST SAY NO. Well actually, not really, but here are a bunch of strategies:
1. Three applications that can be downloaded were discussed in the globe article; Selfcontrol: a mac application that can block access to facebook for up to 24 hours. :Freedom: Disables all internet access on Mac for up to 3 hours. Leechblock: Blocks internet for firefox browsers. The reason these are good, is that it takes the power struggle out of the equation. Being the facebook police is no fun, and teens are amazingly crafty at sneaking. This enables you to sit down together and say the following;" I get how much fun facebook is for you. I know that you are worried that if you are not always checking that you might miss something, but it is important for you to have sometime during the evening when you are not checking. This is not only so you can concentrate better on the work you have to do, but also for the future. Just like I wouldn't let you eat candy till you throw up, I can't let you become addicted to something that in the long run will be harmful to you. I know you don't see it now, but once you are on your own, you need to have some experience and practice at just focusing on one thing, whether it is college, or a job, whatever. I want you to be successful in life, and if you are pissed at me forever, so be it, I''ll deal. Lets discuss together the times you are willing to be shut off."
2. This strategy should be enforced for cell phone as well. All carriers will shut off and turn on the phone according to your needs. There should be cellphone free hours, and absolutely no cellphone use in bed.
3. If you have 5-8th graders, this will be easier. Your kids are still babies!!!!!! You are in charge!!!!! Do I make myself clear!!!!! When your young teen gets a cellphone there should be rules in place, like: you can use your cell phone until 6PM, then I will give it back to you at 8:30 so you can check back in with your friends till 9:30 when the phone will be shut off. This is not just about homework, this is your chance to limit from the beginning your teens dependence on their cellphone. These young teens need to connect with friends, but not for hours on end. If they give you a hard time, you can always say, "I get this sounds hard, but you have a choice here. Either you cooperate with this plan, and choose to have your phone, or you choose to fight me, and I choose to take the phone away. You're in control."
4. For older teens, especially if you have noticed a drop in grades due to lack of focus, you can say:
"we have noticed a steady decline in your effort and your grades. Part of that is connected to your need to stay connected at all times. In order for us to feel confident in your ability to drive and concentrate on your driving , and for us to feel confident in your ability to handle the freedom of college life, and your studies there without us all over you like a rash, we need to come up with a plan with you for improvement. We are willing to help you get your license or allow you use of the car when we see that you can be without facebook and texting for some part of every night. The same thing goes for college and all the work it takes to go through that process. We are willing to do everything we can to support and help you with it all, visiting schools, helping with applications, money, but only if we feel you are showing us your ability to focus on what you need to do to get there. Lets set some goals for this last term. What grades are you willing to work for, and what are you willing to do about limiting facebook and texting during a few hours in the evening. This is important stuff honey, because if you have a hard time saying no to yourself and focusing on homework even for a short time, that does not bode well for driving or college. We do not want to set you up for disappointment or failure."
5. If you have already given your teen some kind of smartphone or IPAD or ITOUCH, take it away. Say you made a mistake, and realized giving you unlimited access to the internet 24 hours a day is a set up for temptation. Most adults can't deal with it either. This is just not the right time to add any more distraction to your life."
6. Check your cellphone logs and make sure your teens are not texting during school. Many kids do and it is yet another distraction they can't resist. Even if they are not using it during class, they are thinking during class what they will text when they get out of class. Shut their phones off during school time.
8. If you have bought your teen their own laptop, make them do their homework on it in the kitchen. Laptops only in room after 9 PM and NEVER in bed, or just shut off your wireless modem before you go to bed.
7. If all else fails, take away their laptops, or make them work in the kitchen. If they give you the argument that they need the computer for school, then take them to your public library and let them work on the computers there.
This is not easy. Unfortunately many parents have to backtrack, not anticipating the allure of these devices and the addiction factor. If you want your teen to develop good habits and focus, you have to take the lead on this. The temptation factor is just too strong, and to expect that your teen will on their own be able shut down and shut off, is unrealistic. The research about this stuff is just coming out and it is abundantly clear that we are doing our teens a disservice by not setting better limits. Yes your teens will be mad, yes your teens will say you are the worst parent ever, yes your teen will say "I can't wait to move out of this friggin house." But you know better. Bottom line, your kids love you, regardless, maybe not this minute. Just wait ten years.