The pandemic has been especially hard on adolescents given that they are wired to develop more independence from their parents and connect more to their peers at this stage of life. The easiest place to meet their peers is online and yet there is a wide body of research that indicates excessive time online can lead to more anxiety and depression. Parents who want to support their teens in putting down their phones and reaping the calming benefits of nature, or even just getting outside to meet friends, are often at a loss as to how to do it. Telling them to get off their phones in a moment of frustration is often the least productive — it can feel shaming and end up creating more distance in the relationship. Instead, it’s helpful to consider a more playful, engaging, and insightful approach.
Being honest about your own struggles with phone usage can be a great place to start. Teaming up with your teen to track and try to reduce phone usage can be done playfully and is easy to track with Android and iOS (such as Screen Time on iOS). Bonus points for a fun-loving outdoor activity you can enjoy together as a reward. During a time of calm, you may get curious together about what propels you to pick up the phone – is it boredom? Loneliness? Anxiety? Becoming more aware is the first step to making more conscious, healthy choices to address those underlying emotions.
It’s also important to understand that they might be experiencing some social trepidation as things open up, they are navigating a whole new social landscape. Normalizing the stress that might come with that is the first key step. Sharing examples of your own discomfort also helps normalize it. Teens may need some help brainstorming fun ways to spend time with their friends. Ideas for pre-teens include planning a picnic with friends, creating a scavenger hunt in the neighborhood, or helping discover a project or activity that could help them reach a state of flow.
The post Tips for Getting Preteens to Put Down the Phone and Go Outside appeared first on Just Mind.
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