It’s Time for the Dreaded Screen Talk
So, mom, dad, or auntie, it’s time for the dreaded “screen talk.” Are you tired of your teen looking down at his or her phone “all the time?” What happens when you ask your teen to please put the phone down or turn it off? Is there eye rolling, moaning “this isn’t fair” and maybe even door slamming after they huff out of the room? If so, know that you are not alone? This is a struggle played out day after day in homes across America.
But why is it such a struggle? Well, some of the best brains and behavioral scientists in the world are working on the answer. But, why do you care about this science stuff? Well, because you want your child to become a happy, productive, adult – equipped to succeed in today’s ever-complex world and we know that science helps us figure this out.
So, let’s learn a bit more about the science. The National Institutes of Health is currently conducting The Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study — the largest long-term study of brain development and child health in the United States. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is funding leading researchers in the fields of adolescent development and neuroscience. The ABCD Research Consortium consists of a Coordinating Center, a Data Analysis and Informatics Center, and 21 research sites across the country.
Using cutting-edge technology, this group of scientists are determining how childhood experiences (such as sports, videogames, social media, unhealthy sleep patterns, and smoking) interact with each other and with a child’s changing biology to affect brain development and social, behavioral, academic, health, and other outcomes.
If you do a Google search on articles about teens and screen time, you’ll find that there are 47,700,000 published research articles! In addition to articles published in the nation’s leading academic journals, there are several recent books based on research, written for a lay audience. One such book was written by San Diego State University psychologist Jean Twenge: iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy–and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood–and What That Means for the Rest of Us. Dr. Twenge has spent years researching young people and Cour Training uses her findings to help guide our program. We also recommend reading, Glow Kids: How Screen Addiction is Hijacking our kids-and How to Break the Trance by Dr. Nicholas Kardaras. Dr. Kardaras has over 15 years’ experience in brain science and addiction and has made numerous TV appearances and in full disclosure, was the blog writer’s professor while studying neuropsychology in her doctoral program.
So, what’s the bottom line, we must work together to help our young people manage technology. Generally young people handle online relationships well but even so, changes in their brains make them sensitive to and stressed by their social world. So, what’s a parent to do? Discuss and model healthy relationship skills, encourage in-person, real-life relationships, and be available to talk when they are ready to talk about their social life.
Is that enough? No, it’s a great start but it isn’t enough. Let’s help our young people lay down a firm foundation of social-emotional-learning (SEL) through activities that boost self-efficacy, enhance self-esteem in a positive manner, and build resilience that lasts a life-time. Let’s help them learn how to take a meta-moment – a pause between being triggered and responding- to choose a better path. Let’s help them get in touch with their need for good nutrition, hydration, and sleep. As parents and guardians, let’s help them have Tools for Life!