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Why Your Child Doesn’t Listen to You When it Comes to Screen Time

Thank goodness for technology! 

So often with our children, we focus on the negatives of tech use, trying to make them understand all of the dangers and pitfalls. And there are negatives, no denying it, but that is only part of the equation.

To have an honest conversation about tech, we have to acknowledge the positives too. To be respected and credible mentors to our children in the area of technology use, we have to notice and celebrate what youth and their devices bring into this world.  

Now is the perfect time to do this. The world is standing up for equality, and young people and their smartphones are making it happen. 

For generations, African-Americans have been killed in darkness, with only those complicit or silenced watching. Now, because of a young woman with a phone, the world sees what happened to George Floyd (and so many others). Because of the smartphone, the deep roots of racism are seen on camera, making it harder to forget, ignore, or pretend.  

While we often dismiss young people’s interest in social media as shallow, it is because of social media that the world can connect and demand change. Youth are leading the current protests in countries around the world, communicating by Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. The power of social media is turning their voices into movements that cross all borders.  

My 19-year-old nephew texted a friend with an idea to organize a protest in Oakland. For five days they sent out Insta posts, tweets, organized via Zoom calls - and 15,000 masked people emerged quietly from self-isolation to make their voices heard. These protests, with young people at the helm, are being organized in a worldwide quarantine, and they will change the trajectory of racism in our world. How? The smartphone.

Our children don’t need us to judge their tech use. The youth do not need us to take away their devices. They need us to show them how to avoid the pitfalls and tricky aspects of tech use so that they can harness the power that is placed into their hands with a smartphone and use it to enhance their lives and improve the world.   

Begin by talking to your child about the benefits of technology - smartphones, social media, all of it. Take a tech positive stance. If you are talking to them about the protests occurring right now, show them how technology is making this moment possible. Ask them to show you what they love on their smartphone, or what they have re-posted on their Insta account. Connect over tech use - this way they will actually listen to you when you talk about your screen time concerns. Tell them that while devices have pitfalls that you must prepare them for, the technology contained in their smartphone can be used in unfathomable ways and that you want them to enjoy and harness this power for good.  

This world is quickly changing. Our children will face global, existential challenges in their lifetime that we cannot yet imagine. They will need to communicate, organize, entertain, and educate - as a global community. Teaching your child to use their smartphone wisely could be the most important thing you ever do for their future.

Clinical Psychologist


About Beyond Limits Academy

Beyond Limits is a simple step-by-step online program that teaches parents how to prepare their children for a lifetime of safe and healthy technology use. Going beyond just screen time limits, our skills-based approach provides a clear road map that reduces conflict and sets children up to manage their own tech use independently and responsibly. In an increasingly digital world, preparing our children to use technology wisely is no longer an option . . . it's a necessity.

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