Boys have a hard enough time concentrating, contemplating, and reflecting — all executive functions centered in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, an area where teenage males are naturally not as fast to mature as we may like. So the last thing we need is for our sons to spend too much time with technology that inherently encourages surface-level, multi-tasked, short-term thinking.
Signs He’s Using Too Much Tech:
- Would he rather spend time with technology than people?
- Is he choosing technology over physical activity and time outdoors?
- Does he use tech devices during mealtimes?
- Is most of the time he spends with friends on tech devices (i.e., texting, playing video games, watching television)?
- Is tech usage distracting from the time he should be spending on homework?
- Does his greatest sense of joy or accomplishment seem to come from tech usage?
- Does he seem fatigued and/or irritable, particularly after long periods of tech usage?
- Does he have a hard time concentrating, particularly after long periods of tech usage?
- Does he get anxious if he is away from his tech devices for too long?
If you answered yes to any one of these questions, your son may be using too much technology, and it’s probably a good idea to consider new (or revised) rules for his tech use.
What To Do About It:
At this point, your son has likely become accustomed to his technology independence and therefore you might encounter push back when enforcing new technology rules. Know that this is ok, and that it is your right and responsibility as a parent to be actively engaged in creating a healthy relationship between your son and technology.
- Begin by telling your son that you would like to have a conversation about technology use in the family at a designated time. This will give your son time to mentally prepare himself for the conversation–even subconsciously!
- When you have the conversation, I highly recommend that you talk with your son either while going for a walk, playing a game of catch, or doing something active but not distracting. This will keep your son engaged and his brain “turned on” for the duration of your conversation.
- Approach this issue of technology use as a family-wide issue. Try to avoid making him feel singled out.
- Discuss all the ways technology helps improve your lives–like providing information, connecting you with friends, and providing services of convenience. Also discuss all the ways it can threaten your quality of life–like distracting from homework, making you tired, and taking time away from family and friends.
- Next, present the new guidelines for technology use. These new guidelines might include a reduced number of screen time hours, restrictions on where and when technology can be used, and an increase of engagement and surveillance by you as a parent.
Stay consistent and determined in your mission to help your son regain a healthy balance of technology in his life. As our world becomes more engulfed by technology, this lesson will prove to be a lasting gift in your son’s life.