If you’re worried your teenager is addicted to their mobile, Facebook or computer gaming, try a digital detox where everyone in the house turns off all TV’s, tablets, laptops and any other ‘screens’ for a set time.

So firstly, agree a 1- or 2-day digital detox and plan ahead.
It’s far better to get your teenager involved and agree to the challenge than to force them. It’s more respectful and encourages them to take some responsibility. Explain to your teenager that you’re thinking about everyone in the family doing a digital detox. Talk about your own worries about switching off your devices. And ask about their concerns. Empathise with your teenager about how hard it will be to switch off. Talk about what else they could do with their time. And most importantly talk about WHY you’re doing this!

  • To take control.
  • Sleep.
  • Relax.
  • Connect.
  • Recharge
  • Think.
  • Have fun.
  • Prove you can.
  • Enjoy time.
  • Feel empowered.
  • And stay productive and balanced.
    Ask lots of questions, discuss solutions and talk about how to stay motivated.
    If your teenager refuses, either your relationship needs some work, or their addiction is worse than you thought. When they hopefully agree, talk about exactly what will be turned off. When, and for how long. And warn your friends and family.

Secondly, at the agreed time switch everything off.
Be prepared for both you and your teenager to feel quite miserable at first, and struggle with feeling bored. Spend time with each other, talking and reconnecting. Prepare and eat meals together. Go out for a walk in nature or read a book. Play games or do things you just enjoy.
It really isn’t easy, and you may feel tempted just to check your mobile. Support each other and praise your teenager’s self-control – even if they’re a bit vocal about how hard they’re finding it.

Finally, afterwards, decide if turning the electronics off in your home is something you’d like to do regularly. A lot of people are surprised at the benefits –and the freedom they feel –when they do a digital detox. Could your family agree to regular periods of time where you all switch off?
Perhaps for a few hours an evening? Or on Sundays? Or for a weekend a month?
The improvement in family relationships and the feeling of freedom can help you all feel more connected and balanced. And it’s really good to help your teenager discover the joys of life away from a mobile.

So to do a digital detox with your teenager, 3 things you can do are to:

  1. Agree a 1- or 2-day digital detox and plan ahead.
  2. Then at the agreed time switch everything off.
  3. And afterwards, decide if turning the electronics off in your home is something you’d like to do regularly.

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child behavioural expert
The author:

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

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