Kids can struggle with grades for many reasons, but excessive phone time doesn’t help.
If you think your children’s struggles with grades are because of their phones, what should you do?
Diagnose The Problem
First, take a serious look at the problem. There are many reasons good grades can begin to slip. Some kids are distracted, but others just need more help with the material, or other concerns may be coming to the fore. This is especially true as tweens and teens start adding to their schedules, assuming more responsibilities, joining more after-school activities, and as their workload picks up.
Furthermore, a jump in phone use can have many causes. For example, it’s common for people who feel overwhelmed to just not deal with their workload and watch TV or play games instead. So before jumping right to the phone, look at the whole situation as objectively as you can.
Talk It Through
Before you go in and take the phone away, or install parental control apps, you should sit down with your kids, discuss your concerns, and explain the actions you’re taking and why. They won’t necessarily be happy about it, of course, but they’ll need to understand your concerns and why this is happening. Be sure to leave the door open for them to tell you about concerns they might have. Make it a discussion, and be sure everyone walks away understanding everyone else’s perspective.
Some screens help, some screens hinder.
You should also consult with teachers about your concerns, for a few reasons. One, teachers can tell you what they see their students doing on their phones, and give you an idea about what’s going on. Two, teachers can give you a list of programs and websites that they use during class, so that you can configure parental control software to allow those apps and nothing else during school hours. And three, if there are other areas of concern, such as signs of depression or a negative relationship with classmates, teachers may be able to tell you what’s happening because of their unique perspective on kids’ lives.
Don’t Go Cold Turkey
Contrary to popular belief, “cold turkey” probably isn’t the way to go with children and their screens. In some cases, it may simply be unworkable, such as when kids need their phone to pick up shifts at a job or volunteering opportunity, or to work with their classmates on group projects through video calls or online study groups.
Instead, work out a plan that balances your concerns against their needs. One tried and true rule is that no games or TV may be played until their homework is done, but there are several other approaches worth taking, such as “paying” for chores in screen time, or using parental control software to set strict limits on what can be used at what times.
Responsible phone use isn’t just a good thing for grades, it’s a useful lifelong skill that will teach young ones how to manage their time effectively. To learn how Screen Time can help, try it for free.