Technology Use During COVID 19
We can’t turn on the TV or open our phones without seeing something about our current global pandemic. Earlier in the year, many places had put a “shelter in place” or “safer at home” order in place. That combined with the fact that many schools closed early, summer programs were canceled, and now many schools are going virtual, have caused more teens to spend more time at home than ever before.
Because young people are spending this extra time at home, they are also spending extra time with technology and their devices. Instead of spending their days in a classroom, they are learning at home in front of screens. Plus they have the added distraction of access to their personal devices during the day. All of these can lead to concerns of overuse of technology during COVID-19.
Problems Families Face
If teens are spending more time in front of the screen than usual, we can anticipate that they are going to be more easily distracted throughout the day. Teens who are drawn to social media or gaming, are going to feel enticed to spend time doing those things during the school day, rather than the school work assigned. For students with attention issues, this can be even more challenging and exacerbate already present issues. We may see an increase in attention related issues related to COVID-19. We may also see parents struggling to hold boundaries and structure with their teens around technology use.
It is not only teenagers who are spending more time with their tech. Many adults are now working and socializing from home, and it can be challenging to model positive habits around heavy tech use. Added to that, that parents are often trying to do their own jobs at home and distracted while their teen is doing their schoolwork, the lines and boundaries that typically existed between tech use and family time can begin to blur.
Setting Healthy Boundaries Around Tech Use
A great thing for families to practice is having a tech-free time. That could be a tech-free dinner and then maybe a board game or something that encourages interactions without screens. Taking a tech break is a great way for parents to role model healthy behaviors around technology use. It is pretty unrealistic to expect teens to put away their cell phone at dinner if parents are checking emails or social media themselves.
Parents can also collaborate with their teens to create boundaries around tech use. For example, parents can work with their teen to create a schedule for tech use. It is helpful to co-create a plan with the teen, so that they have some investment and input. Parents are clear about the boundaries of when tech use is allowed and when not. This can also help parents know when they should be monitoring or checking on the teen’s tech use. If a parent knows that from 2:00 to 4:00 there’s going to be no tech use, that gives the parent a chance to take a break, put their guard down, and know that the devices in the parent’s room, or whatever, is to be so that they can rest and recharge.
Human beings are very social creatures. Teens especially are very social creatures. Developmentally, teenagers are beginning to distance from their family and trying to find their social circles. This can lead to teens feeling more isolated or feeling more alone, so they turn to technology and the internet, social media to foster connection. The drive to connect socially is developmentally appropriate, but it can become overdone and begin impacting other aspects of life.
As families work and learn from home, we know that everyone is going to be using their devices. The goal is not to completely eliminate technology use, but rather create healthy boundaries through planning and communication.
Equinox RTC Can Help
Equinox is exclusively designed for young men ages 14 – 18. Our students build accountability, respect, and a solution-oriented approach to solving their challenges with the help of our therapeutic approach. We help adolescents work through the challenges of addiction in a safe environment. For more information please call
Casey has been working with teens and young adults since 2009. He specializes in mindfulness-based approaches to therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, motivational interviewing, and family systems work.