What Is “Right” and “Wrong” Anyways?

Whether something is “right” or “wrong” depends on how you choose to think about something.

Part of the reason I did last week’s episode, What We’re Getting WRONG About Teen Screen Time is to help you think differently from the general herd mentality.

I want to help you define what works for you and what doesn’t.

In today’s podcast we’ll explore what we’re getting RIGHT about teen screen time.

Teens Value Screens

First off, I feel like it’s important to mention that if your teen is like most teens, in fact all of the teens that I know, they probably value screens.

It’s also important to mention, that your teen’s relationship with screens is probably slightly different from yours. If you’re anything like me, most of your early interaction with screens was mainly for pleasure. We’d get home from school and turn on the TV to watch Batman: The Animated Series or Dark Wing Duck.

Our screens were a place for entertainment and mental and emotional escape, and that was about it.

Look at our teen’s relationship with screens. Their screen is their connection to their friends, to society, to games and entertainment, to learning, to spirituality, to everything.

You and I can unplug and go camping for a week, and it means a break from emails and a small sacrifice of entertainment.

Asking our teens to unplug can feel incredibly isolating and completely foreign.

I’m not saying teens shouldn’t unplug, I’m just saying that they have a different relationship with screens.

What I Think We’re Getting Wrong

Aside from hopefully helping you see things a little differently, I also want to show you some of the things that I believe we are getting right as parents when it when it comes to screen time.

It’s not my goal to tell you how to think. So, please feel free to disagree. I’m sharing my thoughts and opinions to hopefully help you to form your own thoughts and opinions.

#1 Being Cautious

I think it’s healthy to be a little cautious when it comes to screen time. I DON’T think it’s healthy to demonize screen time and teach our teens to avoid it like the plague. Making your teen avoid screen time won’t help your teen develop an appropriate relationship with screens.

Here’s an example. I grew up around horses and other large animals. I LOVE horses. As a teen I trained horses. I learned to respect horses, and I learned to enjoy horses, but I’m also very cautious around them. I’ve learned from experience that they can be dangerous, VERY dangerous. I’ve been kicked by horses, bitten by horses, and I’ve fallen off when I wasn’t cautious enough.

By learning how to be healthily cautious, I now know how to use horses in a way that’s fun, safe, and that works for me.

This is the same approach I’m taking with my teens and their screen time.

I want to keep teaching them to be cautious. Screen time is like a horse, or a snake, or skiing down a frozen mountain. It’s not bad. It can be dangerous, and I want to help you learn how to be cautious and how to use it for your own good.

#2 Setting Boundaries

I think screen time is a super powerful opportunity for you and your teen to set boundaries based on conversations that you two have together.

I know a lot of parents who do a fantastic job of setting boundaries with their teens and screen time. If you feel like your boundaries need a little help, turn to your teen. Ask them what they think is fair, what they think should be expected, what would be some fair consequences, both positive and negative.

Sometimes you’ll need to set unpopular boundaries when it comes to your teen and their screen time, but how you set boundaries will inform how they set boundaries, so don’t be afraid to set some unpopular boundaries.

#3 Making Decisions Based On Your Unique Family/Needs

One of the mistakes that I see parents making around screen time is trying one-size-fits-all approaches.

You don’t have to tackle screen time the same way your neighbors, church leaders, or even your favorite podcaster does. Do what works for you and your teen.

#4 Find Ways to Make Screen Time Work FOR Your Teen

The other day, I was coaching a teen. They asked me a question about something they needed to know for school. Instead of giving him the answer, I asked him, “Where do you think you could find the answer?” His answer, “YouTube!” I said, “Great. You check it out and let me know.” He replied, “I can’t. I’m not allowed to use YouTube.”

I hate to be the one to break this to you, but YouTube isn’t going away anytime soon.

Rather than completely banning YouTube, when possible help your teen learn how to make YouTube work for them.

Are they interested in something, especially something that would help them develop a deeper understanding or purpose? Let them use their screen time to help them deepen the understanding or learn vital skills.

#5 Set a Powerful Example

I’ll be honest with you, I need to work on this one.

I ask my teens to get off of their screens, then I’m guilty of being on my screen when I’d rather be present and engaged with my kids.

The biggest difference in the victim and the hero mentality is your ability to see and act on opportunities.

Your relationship with screen time is an opportunity to model an appropriate relationship with screen time.

BE The Change you want to see.

Your teen’s screen time habits will resemble what they see from you.

BONUS Be Willing to Adapt

Technology is changing so fast. Find ways to be adaptable. Let your teen help you adapt when it comes to screen time.

As you learn to adapt, your teen will better understand how to adapt to changing times.

Step 1 – Go take the parent trap quiz!

It’s free, easy, and will take you less than 3 minutes.

Step 2 – Use your quiz results to focus your energy on growing in the area indicated by your quiz results.

Step 3- Come work with me to help you up level your parenting!

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