Teenager Technology Overload – How Much is Too Much?
Your teen seemingly goes from his laptop, to his tablet, to his smart phone as if it’s a full time job. Sound familiar? Sure, technology today is “essential,” but honestly, at times it seems like teenager technology overload. In this age where our children don’t know a world without technology, families with teenagers are struggling to find out the appropriate balance. Technology is an excellent resource, especially for use in a speech therapy setting, as long as the appropriate rules and limits are followed. As our teenagers have access to more information than ever before, it’s important to realize that their brains may not be able to process it as easily. A study from Loren Frank of the University of California suggested,
Downtime lets the brain go over experiences it’s had, solidify them and turn them into permanent long-term memories.
However when our brains are constantly stimulated, “you prevent this learning process.”
Our teens (and perhaps their parents, gulp!) are more wired than ever. According to a Pew Center Research Project, 78 percent of today’s teens have a cell phone with nearly half of those being a smart phone. Similar studies indicate that one teen in four owns a tablet type device and nine out of ten teens have a computer in their home. With technology at every single fingertip, its easy to see why teens of today are using technology for their every need.
What Can You Do To Avoid Teenager Technology Overload?
The first and perhaps most important is to set limits. Limit use of their devices to a specific time of day, or let them choose their time but agree to stop using the devices at an agreed upon hour.
Set aside reading time. No, not reading from the iPad, instead choose a book or newspaper. Perhaps suggest that your child may earn one hour of “screen time” for every 40 pages of a book he completes. You never know, he may get so engaged in his book, he’ll forget about his electronics for the day.
Encourage outdoor time. Especially this last month of Summer break. Encourage your teens to play outside, like we all used to do! Getting outdoors gives your teen’s brain a break and allows him to take in the world around him, physically. And, as we’ve learned, downtime from the tablet assists in the learning process.
Quit cold turkey. Trying setting aside one day per week to go technology free. This means you too! Set the example for your teenager that you can go “device free” for a day. You’ll find that once all the devices are put away, you’ll have time to connect with your family, distraction free! Looking for ideas? Check out the National Day of Unplugging or Sabbath Manifesto sites.
Overall, technology is a helpful tool, if used appropriately. We have covered ways in which technology can be an excellent resource for speech therapy in previous blogs. Safety, security, online speech therapy games, resource, are just a number of reasons why we all need technology in our lives. We encourage you and your teen to work together to overcome teenage technology overload, and instead aim for teenage technology balance!