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  • Writer's pictureErika Bugbee, M.A.

Teens, Screens, and Parenting: An Opportunity to Teach Leadership and Life Skills vs Another Battle to Fight

In today’s video I talk about a topic I get asked about almost daily by my parenting and practitioner clients: teens and screens.


Excessive time on screens and social media creates fears around things like brain development, social skills,  addiction issues, mental health issues, and lack of friends, exercise, time spent outside and time with family.


This is a very different era from the one we all grew up in. And there’s no precedent for how to handle it. 


To complicate things, we’re also living in the internet age. Parents spend a lot of time on the internet and social media which can promote a fear-state in parents about the effects of screens and social media. 


Parents tend to either feel pressured to control their kids around screen usage or are too overwhelmed to do more than watch things unfold from a feeling of insecurity or discouragement.


But I want to suggest a different approach.


It’s not a formula, it’s a direction.


And it places much more importance on the mindset and vision of the parent than on strategies and tactics. 


To some degree, you can govern teens with rules and directives. 


But for the rest of it, I want to suggest that parents invest themselves in solutions that require more discussion, partnership, and reflection on both the parent and the kid.


I have young adults myself and will be the first to acknowledge that it’s MUCH easier to just tell your kids what to do vs work things out with them.


But if you over-govern a teen, they become hostile, distant, apathetic, retaliatory, sneaky or get very good at lying.


So parents get to a point where they have no cards to play. And the battle to win the electronics fight can quickly take over the relationship, the house, our daily lives, and our mental lives.


This forces parents to find another path. That’s where these ideas come into play.


I see the electronics and social media crisis as a rare opportunity for parents to have real and genuine talks with their kids.


These talks would require both parents and teens to think in a way that brings 'soft skills' like perspective, ownership, reflection, and a new level of respect and listening.


These soft skills are things a teen might not otherwise learn, even as an adult.


They represent leadership and life skills that will create a more well-balanced adult that's better prepared to navigate adult challenges in areas like the workplace, long-term relationships, and whatever future mental health or addiction issues come their way.


Parents have a chance to give their teens something much bigger and more meaningful than solving the screen problem that will affect the quality of their lives forever.


That’s what today’s video is about.


Click below to watch.


This interview was hosted by my colleague Clare Assante. Clare was one of my former Practitioner Mentoring students and is out there doing great things for parents and teens. To check out Clare’s private Facebook group click here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/parentingteensmoregracefully






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