By Claire Behrens
Faces down, walking, on sidewalks, in train stations, in the park, in the mall, staring at their cellular phones. That seems to be the common posture for most people since the birth of the iPhone. Coming from all walks of life and at almost every age, the effect of technology can be noticed everywhere.
We walk around on a planet of zombies where we hardly see faces anymore. What are we missing? How is technology influencing our relationship with our children?
While technology has placed a world of networking options and information at our feet, it has been separating us more than ever. Our innate physiological human response is being replaced by addiction to technology and the instant gratification it provides.
All over there are families who are able to sit at the dinner table only after all members have received a text stating “Dinner is ready!”
What is happening to us? To our basic human relationships within family circles?
If you have teenagers, you must have noticed the myriad of applications they are exposed to. From SnapChat to Instagram, Kik, WeChat, and Facebook, teenagers spend more of their time socializing on their phones than interacting with real friends.
How and what do you do to avoid having a virtual parenthood experience?
As with younger children, setting clear expectations about family rules and mutual respect is mandatory to establishing and keeping a healthy approach to our teenage children.
Technology boundaries include but are not limited to:
- No technology access during meals (no texting, no calls)
- Electronic free bedrooms
- Modeling good behavior by not texting and driving
- Setting family routines known to all family members
- Setting a maximum of hours of phone use while at home
Why are these boundaries so important? We need to keep access to our teenager’s life. Their friendships and their safety are more impacted than ever by the use of technology.
In my house, we use dinner time to talk about our day, our feelings, our plans for the upcoming days, and the high and low lights of the day. Direct communication fosters respect, tolerance, improves communication skills, and gives you a feeling of belonging.
As a parent, be there for your teenager! When your child started standing up and walking, you provided support, and now during their teenage years, you need to provide, in a safe space, the support needed for them to start “walking through life” independently.
The power and gift of parenthood is too unique to lose it to technology! Boundaries create security. Be safe! Be there!
Claire is an English, German and Spanish speaking child and school psychologist in Munich. She supports children with learning disabilities, individualized education plans and school transitions. She has over five years experience in Psychology. She brings in multicultural practical experience gained during her years working in the Middle East, the USA, South America and Germany.