We have all been there. Our teenage child getting grumpy with us. They are tired and irritable. Is this simply hormones or they have stayed up too late or maybe they are concerned about something. Or is there a mobile phone lurking in the background. Recent studies have shown that mobile phone are affecting our teenagers negatively and it is demanding our attention and many adults are neglecting this call.
Mobile phones affect our children’s ability to think, sleep and focus. Parents need to learn how to limit the time teenagers use their phones and also at what time.
It is important to remember they are a useful tool, allowing a range of activities such as taking photos, texting, games, videos and editing those videos. They provide an opportunity to share activity with friends. It is over-use that causes issues. What are those issues.
Sleep disturbance is one of the biggest problems with over-use of mobile phones. Using a mobile phone one hour before bedtime will affect their sleep and can cause tiredness during the day. Reading around this issue many experts confirm that using the mobile phone causes our brains to activate rather than get ready to sleep. Light emissions can also affect sleep. And that constant ping as alerts come in causes additional problems.
Additionally, excessive mobile phone usage causes mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. It can affect a teenagers ability to get multiple tasks done and concentration can become difficult. These mental health problems can also contribute to a lack of sleep.
A factor that I particularly wanted to look into is how mobile usage affects teenagers and how they communicate. I interact with teenagers at home (I have two) and also in my daily work as a youth worker. Young people use mobile phones to entertain themselves which means they are not interacting with friends 9or their youth worker). Others who are shy or insecure use the device to interact with friends because they find it easier to do so. There is a massive discussion around internalisation that I cannot go into in the space of this post, but please take a look if the psychology interests you or if you have a shy or introverted teenager. There is a further issue in that most teenagers will text or use another messaging medium rather than using the mobile phone to speak.
How can you help your teenager? Reducing the times that phones are used or even giving up the phone for periods are good ideas. Having periods of not using your mobile phone have shown to be most effective in reducing reliance on the phone and clearing up some of the affects.
Empowering your child is going to be the best approach but it might need more interaction than that. We have a responsibility towards helping our teenagers through changing their behaviour and use of the mobile phone. Talking things through with them is the first stage. Explaining your concerns and helping the teenager acknowledge that change needs to happen is important and will be most effective in getting change to happen. Once acknowledgement is reached, then put in place with teenagers a plan to effect that change and include times of stopping usage completely. This will help reduce the chance of over-usage returning. And remember, it is over-usage that we are talking about! At the end of the day creating awareness will help the teenager or your child to understand why you have concern.
The difficulties in this approach will be worth it. Once you and your child start regulating the use of the mobile phone it will have immediate and positive effects. Studies have show that academic performance will increase and depression and anxiety will decrease. Sleep returns and teenagers will have a healthier state of mind.
In reading this article I can only presume you have an interest and possibly a teenager or teenagers affected by over-use. There are numerous studies that show that over-using their mobile phones can cause depression, anxiety, sleep deprivation and cognitive difficulties. It can affect behaviour and cause difficulties teenagers have in relating to peers and others.
Mobile phone usage is a serious issue and we need to act now to combat this threat to our teenagers.