People at a concert taking photos and video with their mobile phones.

Is Too Much Phone Time Diminishing Kids’ Personal Social Skills?

by Screen Time Team on 27/06/2018

Two girls lying upside down on a couch side by side.

Phones Vs. Faces

To some degree, your teen will interact with other people no matter what. After all, they go to school. But there are areas where some have concerns, and while those concerns might seem overblown, they’re not entirely unwarranted.

The appeal of making friends on the internet is that you can meet people almost exactly like you. This has had some enormous positives: For example, teens with chronic illnesses are able to find online support groups with other teens, which helps their mental and physical well-being. But the downside is that if teens only speak with and text the people they find online, just like any other skill, their interpersonal skills can indeed suffer. Perhaps not to the degree people fear, but enough that it can be a concern.

So, how do you address this with your teens? There’s a number of approaches, but it starts with education and encouragement and ensures you get a little help from parental control apps.

People at a concert taking photos and video with their mobile phones.

Getting Kids To Limit Phone Use

  • Don’t panic. This is the equivalent of being a bit rusty with a skill you haven’t used in a month or two. Bar any genuine mental health concerns, assessed by a professional, all teens really need is a little practice.
  • Talk with them about your concerns. Before you set rules and limits, your teens should understand why you’re putting them in place. They’ll be more likely abide by them and less likely to evade them.
  • Encourage them to take on activities and skills that don’t require a phone. Working on the school newspaper, joining a sports team, joining a club, there are all sorts of ways to ensure kids regularly interact with their peers.
  • Talk to your kids about what they’re doing online, and who they’re doing it with. This can prevent getting too caught up in a message board or chat app.
  • Send boundaries, rules and times of day when the phone or the tablet needs to be off. Parental control apps allow you to set schedules and times that the device is locked, and apps like Screen Time offer “instant pause,” a button which allows a parent to shut off their kids phone instantly. This is especially handy when kids go places where the rules are different, and they might be tempted to cheat.

Every teen is different. Some are just naturally social, while others might need to work at it. But by ensuring they have phones when they need them, but can’t use phones to hide from social interaction, you can encourage them to develop a stronger social skill set. To learn more about parental control apps like Screen Time, click here!


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