If your teenager is always on their mobile, firstly, at a good time, talk about the effect their mobile phone use is having on them, on you, and on the family. Don’t be critical or judgemental or just talk about the negatives, recognise that keeping in touch and the things they do on their mobile are fun.
But explain what you’ve noticed.
That they’re spending less time on their schoolwork, less time talking face to face.
And how when they look at their phone when you’re trying to talk with them it’s making you feel more distant and unimportant.
Tell them if you‘ve noticed it’s affected their mood, their concentration, their eating habits, Or their ability to have meaningful conversations with you.
Explain that you’d like to have more quality time with them and see them enjoying their mobile.
And you’d like to find a way they can do both.

Secondly, set up some sensible rules that everyone in the family agrees.
Have a discussion and get everyone to agree on what times the mobile will go off. Perhaps for a few hours each evening, while they do their homework and have a family meal and when you’re out enjoying family time.
I would suggest that you insist that the phone is charged downstairs at night, so they’re not tempted to answer calls or texts when they should be sleeping. Even if it means you buy an alarm clock and bring their mobile up to their room in the morning.
Don’t expect this agreement to come easily. An obsession is hard to control.
Your teenager may feel really anxious and feel they’re missing out if their mobile isn’t on and by their side. That’s why it’s so important to get everyone’s agreement. And it includes your mobile too.

Finally, help your teenager get a good balance in their lives.
Mobile phone obsession can make teenagers more reclusive, apathetic, anxious, less studious, and less motivated to do things.
It can make them feel uncomfortable talking with other people at a time when they’re already more self-conscious and embarrassed.
So help your teenager find a healthy balance of face to face conversations, going out with friends, doing homework, reading books, enjoying time outdoors, and doing activities they enjoy.
Volunteering is a great thing to encourage. Helping others can really give your teenager a sense of perspective, and meaning.
And try to plan family meals and outings that are mobile-free so you can reconnect with your teenager and enjoy their company.

So to deal with your teenager’s mobile phone obsession 3 things you can do are:

  1. Talk about the effect the obsession is having on them, on you, and on the family.
  2. Set up some sensible rules that everyone in the family agrees.
  3. Help your teenager get a good balance in their lives.

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child behavioural expert
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Elizabeth O’Shea is a parenting specialist child behaviour expert and one of the leading parenting experts in the UK.

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