Nicole Ayers, MA, LAPC, NCC
Today’s teens are growing up in a technology filled world. Whether we like it or not, this is our culture today. I scanned my brain just now regarding my own technology use, and it’s easy to find me answering emails, watching a TV show, and texting. Technology is all around us. Below I’ve listed five big ideas to help parents partner with your teen and discuss their best friend – technology.
Idea #1 Practice what you preach
“Double standards are confusing to young children and exasperating to teens.”
First, take a good look at your own technology use because your relationship with technology – or lack of relationship – will impact your relationship with your teen. Most adults are either (1) technology addicted themselves or (2) completely skeptical of technology. Recognizing where you fall on the continuum is a great start before discussing technology with your teen. If you are on your phone or answering work emails all night, it will be difficult to get your teenager off the computer games. We have to set the example.
Idea #2 Set Limits
“Excessive media use has been associated with obesity, lack of sleep, school problems, aggression, and other behavior issues.”
As a parent, ask yourself, “What is the comparison between the hours my child is interacting with a screen and interacting with me?” (Tough Question!) Help your teen make healthy choices by replacing their screen time with fun activities with you – like board game night, books, magazines, playing outside, or going for a walk. The kicker – this will require something of your time too! And you may be surprised to find out that your teen wants to spend more time with you.
Idea #3 Discuss a family plan
“As the parental authority in your family, you want to be a servant leader, not a tyrant.”
Sometimes, as adults, we don’t fully allow our teens to brainstorm with us. Plan a family meeting time to discuss technology - its uses, the harms of over-use, the favorite game or app your teen loves. When discussing setting family limits on technology use, remember to replace screen time with something else and collaborate as a family. Allow for flexibility. Remember limits are to benefit your family, not to divide you and your teen.
Idea #4 Guard their hearts
“Build a foundation with your teen so that when something negative happens, they can come to you.”
The majority of teens have Internet access almost all the time. However, there are many negative side affects to constant screen time – including acquired ADD, anxiety, sleep disturbance, aggression, eyestrain, and false intimacy. Be sure that when setting limits you are also aware of safe guards for your devices. Helpful tools like Net Nanny, SafeDNS, Kaspersky Safe Kids, and Covenant Eyes are available to aid you in guarding your child or teen’s media use.
Idea #5 Keep up with technology
“Your child is the first generation to brave this new world.”
If you want to practice what you preach, set limits, and guard your teen's heart, knowing about technology is a must for any parent. Ask your teen to teach you about technology. Keep up with the new games that they are playing. Ask other parents what they are doing to keep up with technology use and updates. Create a SnapChat or Instagram to check it out. Know that parenting a teen is a very, very good and holy work. There is grace when it comes to parenting teenagers, especially when technology is involved!
**Information adapted from Ten Tips for Parenting the Smartphone Generation by Gregory L. Jantz and CDC.gov. If you have comments or questions about any of the above, feel free to contact me. Originally posted here.
Nicole Ayers, M.a., LAPC, NCC
Think back on your adolescent years (between the ages of 13-24). Can you think of a time where you look back and say, “What was I thinking?” Of course you can! And I can too! (Hello, hair dying fiasco of 10th grade.) However, sometimes we have a difficult time understanding why the teens we love do what they do and say what they say. Adolescents make some (seemingly) crazy decisions and say some crazy things.
Between the ages of 12-25, the brain undergoes massive reorganization. Like a hardware or software upgrade on your computer, the adolescent brain goes through a season of “remodeling.” The good news is: the remodeled brain is faster, stronger, and smarter!
So yes, parents and teachers, this is a good thing!
During this time in brain development, changes are slow going, and more and more connections (through neural pathways) are made in the brain. The neural wires are firing quicker! This means that over time, teens experience better decision-making, better impulse-control, the ability to set long term goals, and the understanding of rules and ethics. (And we wonder why our teens are so tired! Their brains are working on overdrive!)
Key aspects of the adolescent’s developing brain are (1) sensation seeking, (2) risk taking, and (3) social reward and peer-approval seeking.
1. Sensation seeking
2. Risk taking
3. Social rewards & peer-approval seeking
The decisions your teen’s brain makes are not random! The sensation seeking, the risk taking, and the social, peer-approval seeking - They all serve the purpose of making brain connections that lead to healthy development and relationships later in life.
As a parent, or a mentor to teens, you can help the brain do its job by encouraging your teen’s healthy independence and exploration of the world around them. And, yes, in a few short years, they will look back and most likely say, “What was I thinking??”
References: Baird, 2011; Dobbs & Cahana, 2011; Felix, 2017
The other day I was sitting at a red light. I wasn't in a particular hurry. I wasn't running late. Both nice changes of pace for me. But what I noticed was that my immediate reaction once I had stopped was to reach of my phone and see what I had missed, or better yet, if anyone had missed me and reached out. It's like I'm afraid to be alone with my own thoughts sometimes, so I just start flexing my thumbs for their workout.
Later that day, I was at the gym. I was pretty proud of myself - I was running hard, sweating...you know, doing things I pay a gym for...and I was in the moment. I was not running while staring at my phone. I was not lifting dumbbells while replying to texts in between reps. I was just in the moment. It was awesome. Better yet, it was freeing.
I had this thought - "I'm here training and conditioning my muscles, but it's my actual thumbs (Are there muscles in there? There has to be, right?) that need the most help. It's my thumbs that reach for the apps (Hello, Facebook!), for the notification of new emails, and for the keyboard letters to respond to a text. It's those dang thumbs fault I'm so addicted to my phone.
But it's actually not their fault; it's mine and no one else's. I'm the culprit who manipulates my thumbs to respond to the slightest break in my schedule to see what the world has been up to since I had last checked (no more than 12 minutes ago, I'm sure). It's my fault, and mine only. So me and my thumbs have got some work to do. Actually, I've got some work to do. My thumbs...they actually need a break.
I was hiking with a friend the other day and apparently we got off the trail somehow. I call it lost, not exploring! The trail was clearly marked but we were not paying close attention to the signs, so we were not on the trail.
When I’m not listening to God’s sweet voice, I lose sight of God’s purpose and plan for my life. I tend to make choices that cause roadblocks to God's best for me.
We ended up going through unmarked territory of thorns, snakes, and unknown creatures, and I suddenly became distrusting of the friend who was leading us. Sticks were in my hair, spider webs in my face, YUCK! This friend kept showing me this little blue dot and it’s relationship to the red line and assured me we were close to the marked trail that we needed to be on. He actually told me the little blue dot said walk through 20 creek beds in 40-degree weather with my hiking boots on! What? Trust the little blue dot?? I became cold, tired, and frustrated, not to mention my toes were numb.
My fearless friend was patient with me and wanted to continue going down the path we were on. I became bossy, impatient and insisted we go another way instead of following that darn blue dot and where it said we needed to go. “No! I want to do it my way.”
Sooo, he allowed me to trudge off in a direction that was slippery and thickly wooded. After bleeding and having my jacket destroyed, my friend tried to show me the little blue dot again and its relationship to the red trail. I finally raised my voice and said, “I don’t care about the little blue dot. I want to get to safety and a marked trail. I want to get to the waterfall.” He let me go my own way again, but eventually I gave up. Ugh!!
I finally submitted to the little blue dot and my hiking buddy and we found the trail that led to a beautiful waterfall that was majestic, peaceful, and refreshing. Such a calming place to rest and see God’s workman ship. Trusting and not fighting against the little blue dot really did create less chaos and quickly got us to our final destination.
I chuckled as I thought about my life and the resistance I give God in regards to His path for my life. I don’t always trust Him. I want to do things my way. God lets me try my own way for sure, knowing those painful lessons will bring me back to His loving arms and the path that is best for me.
So now, when I think of the little blue dot, it reminds me that I don’t have to always do things on my own. I can trust God and other people. I can enjoy the journey a little bit more knowing that His love is BIGGER and he just wants me to trust him in all things and enjoy the journey.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.
By: Laura Lee Baker, M.A., NCC, LPC
While jogging today (I say that loosely), I began to think about the seasons. When I think about all four of them, I realize it is important to not rush through them because I can enjoy all of them if I reflect on the purpose behind each one. I could look at the dried up creek bed and see it as a gross, disgusting mess and discard it as an eye sore. Or I can look forward to God's faithfulness and see the beauty and possibility. I can trust that the creek bed will be flourishing and gushing full of fresh water very soon. Beauty to be inhaled.
Spring is a time of planting and renewal. Summer is a time of growth and flourishing. Fall is a time of preparation and reflecting. Winter is a time of struggles and rest.
When I ponder the seasons of life, it is apparent that even during the cold, dark days of winter, such as the loss of a loved one, divorce, loss of a job, whatever the type of struggle, growth and positive change occur in my life if I allow it. If I focus on the hurt and the pain and not the hope of possibility, I can stay stuck in old patterns of defeat and anger.
It is important for me to reflect on the future and the areas I need to develop regarding my relationships as well as my future goals and not quit because the months seem so daunting and lonely. Spring is around the corner. God designed the seasons that way.
Transition can be hard, but fresh hope and life begin by trusting in the possibility of the future. I can plant seeds by investing in others and myself so that by the time summer comes I can bask in the beauty and freedom that summer brings. Even towards the end of summer, the heat can set in and if I am not careful my focus can go back to the past and the lessons I have learned can be forgotten.
I am thankful for the seasons and the constant repeat of rest, renewal, growth, and at times difficulties. But I know that I do not walk alone and my Father in Heaven will never leave me or forsake me. This is where hope and trust intersect.
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Legacy Strategy, Inc. is a private counseling practice in Kennesaw, Georgia.