Teens, Their Technology, and Slow Parenting

Teenagers are deeply attached to their technology, and parents complaining won’t change that one bit. So since you have to live with it, we say use it as a way to better connect with your teenager.

Through technology, you can be a better role model, you can parent every day, and even learn from your teen. No kidding!

The first complaint we hear is that teens are distracted and unresponsive when they are on their phones, computers or watching TV.

We would argue that rather than being distracted, teens are engaged in something other than what their parents want them to be. But they can be unresponsive no matter how you spin it. So, be a better role model.

When you teen is trying to get your attention while you are texting, surfing, or watching, try putting down your phone or turning away from your screen and toward your teen to fully listen to her. Or when your say, “Just a minute,” be just a minute instead of ten.

Do what you would like them to do. At the least, don’t expect them to do something you don’t do for them.

One of the attitudes of slow parenting teens is to parent every day. By this we mean, parents should invite their teens to have a positive contact every single day, whether or not they are in the same room.

In the Ozzie and Harriet version of parenting, parents and teens would sit down to an hour-long, family dinner every night. Fast forward to 2015, and we have to be more creative to stay in contact.

Technology has some answers for us. Check in with your teens with text messages and ask them to check in with you. If you teens are not at home, use Skype or other similar technologies to be able to chat face-to-face.

Exchanging email works, too. We find that parents are at least one step behind their teens in terms of adopting technology, so as they move off of Facebook to Snapchat for communicating with their friends, we are just catching up.

The result is that parents can easily avoid invading their teens’ privacy while still being more available.

If you are fighting with the idea of connecting to your kids through technology, ask them for some help. It might help you get their focused attention, too.

If you need a lesson in texting, ask your teen to show you. Just got a new phone for the holidays and can’t get your email loaded correctly? I bet your teen can do it. Can’t figure out Facetime? You-know-who has it all figured out.

You may find a whole new area of conversation that will last for a long time.

For Slow Parenting to advocate for technology may seem counter intuitive. Isn’t it all about slowing down and leaving technology behind? We want you to slow down to build a sustainable and fun relationship with your teens, and you can co-opt technology to help.

There is plenty of information about the dangers of too much technology. Many worry about teens not having real relationships with people because they are plugged in all time. We suggest that you use technology with your teen so you can talk about it.

Maybe you both decide to have a technology free day. Who knows? Learn about new technologies and use them so that you can quit worrying about their texting habits and focus on your relationship with your teen.

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