Connecting With Teens in a Small Screen World
Connecting with Teens in a Small Screen WorldWe
are on vacation in Florida with another family. Three young teenagers
are on board, my 13-year-old included. A number of times over the past
week, I have peered over to see each of their beautiful faces lost in a 3
½ inch screen: a Nintendo DS, iPhone, iPod Touch, or any other thing i!
By John Duffy,
Author of The Available Parent: Radical Optimism for Raising Teens and Tweens
might be texting friends back home, another might be selecting a new
song, while yet another is playing the latest downloaded game. There
they were in the car last night, screens lighting their faces. There
they were on the couch, in front of the giant TV screen! Even in bed,
all faces illuminated, eyes entranced.
So how is a parent to counteract the draw of the tiny, sophisticated, intoxicating hand-held plaything?
for one, recognize that if you can't beat them, join them. Whatever it
is that is displayed on that tiny screen, your teen is clearly engaged
in it. Sit down with her. Have a look at the contraption. Ask what it
does -- teens love to be teachers. Most importantly, ask what your teen
loves so much about it. This is a golden opportunity to connect, to get
to know your teen better.
And you might want to write her a
clever text once in a while: "How are you?" "What are you
doing/listening to right now?" I worked recently with a father who took
to writing his daughter an "I love you" text every day. He called me
with glee the day he got one back.
You need to know that texting
is the preferred mode of communication for many teens, whether we adults
want that to be the case, or not.
Also, recognize your own
addiction to the tiny screen. What I did not mention above is the myriad
opportunity I have had to see adult faces lit up by an iPhone in the
past several days. We serve as the strongest role models for our teens.
Our screen time is seen as latent permission for their own.
you might want to engage your teen in a different way. For instance, my
wife Julie and I designated yesterday's lunch as a "No Screen Zone." We
engaged our teenagers in conversation. We talked about music, movies
and politics. It was fun, and everyone was engaged and participating.
So make sure you protect some time together where all screens go dark.
© 2011 John Duffy, author of The Available Parent: Radical Optimism for Raising Teens and Tweens
Dr. John Duffy, author of The Available Parent: Radical Optimism for Raising Teens and Tweens, is
a highly sought-after clinical psychologist, certified life coach,
parenting expert, and proud parent. He has been working with teens,
tweens, and their families for more than fifteen years. He has provided
the critical intervention and support needed to help hundreds of
families find their footing.
He has served as a contributing parent expert for a number of media outlets. These include AOL Health, AOL Parent Dish, Notre Dame magazine, Root & Sprout, bettyconfidential.com, makeitbetter.net, examiner.com, theteendoc.com, Chicago Parent, sheknows.com, Psych Central, Current Health Teens, The Oakland Tribune, andWorking Mother Magazine. He has also served as a parenting and relationship expert on a number of radio programs, including the nationally-syndicated Mr. Dad program with best-selling author Armin Brott, and The Lite Show on WNTD in Chicago. Dr. Duffy has also contributed to a number of books, including Living Life as a Thank You(Viva Editions) by Mary Beth Sammons and Nina Lesowitz.
For more information please visit http://www.drjohnduffy.com/ and Amazon, and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter