Maybe you’ve already tried threatening to take away their phone — or setting boundaries around phone use — only to have them tell you they’ll just die if they don’t continue their Snapstreak. Don’t fret! Here are six tips to help them disconnect from the online world and reconnect with family.
1. Give the Gift of Experiences
Rather than upgrading their smartphone for a birthday or other holiday, gift them experiences or adventures that you can share. Maybe it’s tickets to their favourite theme park, concert tickets to see their favourite artist, or a special road trip just the two of you where they choose the destination.
As they get older, you can even include an extra ticket so a friend can come along. They may have so much fun that they’ll forget how uncool it is to be seen with Mom or Dad.
2. Get out in Nature
Can’t separate your child from their tech? No problem: Go where there’s no signal! Take a hike, go for a bike ride, or go snowshoeing. Or better yet, find the outdoor adventure of your teen’s dreams and make it happen. After they stop griping about being unable to get a signal, they might just start appreciating the bonding time and the beauty of nature.
Just remember — you’ll get extra parenting points if you offer to take a photo of them to share on social media later.
3. Have a Tech Penalty
You want to disconnect and enjoy a nice day out or a family meal with your kids, but you’re just as liable to check your phone as they are. Fix the problem and start spending quality time together by instituting a tech penalty.
Every time a parent checks their phone when it’s supposed to be quality family time, they have to put $1 in a jar towards the family’s next adventure or a pizza night. Every time a teen does it? They might get a tech time out and have to give up their phone for 30 minutes after family time is over. That will quickly stop them from checking their phones!
4. Plan a Coming-Of-Age Trip
Take all your kids individually on their own special tech-free trip with each parent when they turn special ages, like 13, 16, or 18. These are all important birthdays since kids become teens, start being able to drive, or become legal adults. Not only can you have a blast on the trip, but you can also bond while planning the trip together. Let your teen help decide where you go. If your budget allows, it can be someplace special like Paris, or you can keep it closer to home. Make a pact with your child that both of you will limit your tech usage to focus on quality time. The best part? You can make memories you’ll both cherish for the rest of your lives.
You can also use them as a chance to teach important life lessons about things like finances or college planning.
5. Have Family Meetings
Family meetings are great times to check in on family dynamics and come up with cool things to do together — like a reprise of last month’s epic game night. You can also use them as a chance to teach important life lessons about things like finances or college planning. You might have them on a specified day each month and order pizza to make it a special event. You’ll be able to multi-task by smoothing out common sibling disagreements, teaching your kids about savings accounts and application essays, and plotting out future fun family bonding time.
You can also talk to them about the downsides of so much online time such as the mental health effects of too much Instagram, Facebook, or Snapchat and the importance of creating connections in real life (or as the kids say: IRL).
6. It Doesn’t Have to Be a Fight
Staying connected to their phone can be a teen’s way of trying to be independent, but they might just need you more than ever. Sometimes the best way to connect with your kids can be informal; having quick chats while you’re in the car together or across the breakfast table in the morning can be enough to tell you if you need to have a deeper talk with your teen. And if you find your family is always scrolling through your feeds over corn flakes, use that as an opportunity to institute a breakfast tech penalty that turns it into family time.
This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.