• Most teens in the 21st century own gadgets like phones and laptops, which provide every kind of information needed.
• Waweru said threatening to take away your teen’s phone may seem like a great way to get them to do something. But it’s usually not a good choice as a punishment.
The world, people and technology are becoming better everyday.
Most teens in the 21st century own gadgets like phones and laptops, which provide every kind of information needed.
Strict parents monitor their children's use of the gadgets and limit what information they have access to.
But when should you take away a mobile phone from a teenager?
Doctor Alice Waweru a child's therapist said threatening to take away your teen’s phone may seem like a great way to get them to do something.
However, she says it’s usually not a good choice as a punishment.
If they are disobeying the set limits to use them
Waweru said if the child is overusing the phone to a point they cannot focus at a family dinner or texting past bedtime, then a parent should consider confiscating the phone.
"Sit down together and discuss proper use of the phone. Also, invite your teen’s perspective and create a list of phone behaviours with rewards for good and punishments for bad ones," she said.
Break your phone rules
It’s important to create clear smartphone rules that outline your expectations.
"Your list of rules should address issues surrounding phone etiquette like no texting during dinner. Also, rules that address safety issues like no sending sexually explicit photos," Waweru said.
She said rules should also address the financial aspects of owning a smartphone.
"If your teen goes over their data allowance because they're streaming movies, or they need a new phone because they lost theirs, make them financially responsible," the medic said.
"Take away phone privileges until they pay the bill, or until they can purchase a new phone."
Aren't doing well in school
Waweru further says if your teen’s grades are slipping, taking away their phone might be in order.
Limiting phone use for a while might mean fewer distractions while doing homework.
But more importantly, you can use the phone as a motivator to get good grades.
Say, “When you get caught up on all your homework, you can have your phone back.”
Earning phone privileges could be the incentive they need to get serious about school work, she said.
Waweru said if a teen is having trouble waking up on time for school, or sleeps especially late on the weekends, it could be a sign their phone is keeping them up at night.
Midnight text messages from friends or checking social media when they wake up at 2am might be the cause.
"Don’t let your teen sleep with a smartphone in the bedroom," she said.
Create a rule that says all smartphones get turned off at a certain hour like 9pm. Charge phones in a common room during overnight hours.
"Then, your teen won’t feel pressured to take part in late-night conversations with his friends," Waweru said.
Share inappropriate information
If your teen uses their smartphone to share inappropriate messages on social media, or you learn they're giving out your address to strangers, it’s important to intervene.
"Your teen might not only damage their online reputation, but they also may get caught up in some unhealthy activity," Waweru said.
Establish clear guidelines for posting on social media and sharing information online.
Explain the potential consequences of oversharing.
Additionally, talk about the dangers of spreading rumors, cyberbullying, and getting caught up in inappropriate conversations.
Waweru said there are reasons why many teens constantly feel the need to be on social media.
She said positive social media interaction or a quick text message gives them a boost in confidence so, they keep going back for more feedback.
"But, being attached to a smartphone all day can become quite problematic. If your teen's texting, scrolling and gaming is interfering with their ability to get work done, set some healthy limits on how much your teen is allowed to use the phone," the medic said.
Are overly focused on social media
She said some teens grow dependent on social media to fuel their self-worth.
When they receive positive comments and likes on their social media activity, they feel good about themselves.
But if they aren’t drawing enough positive attention, their self-esteem plummets.
"Other teens create online personas that bear little resemblance to their real lives. They create social media profiles under fake names or chat with strangers under false pretenses. They enjoy pretending they are someone else," Waweru said.
Are missing out on real life
The medic said it’s common to see teens ignore the people standing right in front of them so they can text someone else.
"If your teen’s cell phone use crosses the line from being a tool that enhances their life to an object that interferes with living, restrict their privileges," she said.
"They may need your help to set limits on how much they stare at their phone."