Ep 9: Smartphones and Social Media
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Joani Geltman, author of the bestselling book “A Survival Guide to Parenting Teens”, explains how to handle teens who are addicted to their electronic devices. She has found that kids are texting during class, posting on SnapChat while they do their homework, and browsing Instagram until 2 or 3 AM.
Full Show Notes
Teenagers today are addicted to their electronic devices. They text during class, post on SnapChat while they do their homework, and browse Instagram until 2 or 3 AM when they are supposed to be sleeping. How should parents handle smartphones and social media?
A big part of the problem is that the teenage brain is highly attuned to rewards. So the instant gratification that comes with the ping of Likes and new followers is nearly impossible to resist. Smartphones are specifically designed to be like candy to the teenage brain. Studies show that the notifications from social media produce a surge of activity in the teenage reward system.
Parents need to be aware of this and help their teens learn how to put limits on screen time. Joani Geltman helps parents deal with issues like smartphones and social media all the time. She is the bestselling author of A Survival Guide to Parenting Teens.
In this episode of the podcast, Joani outlines some simple and effective solutions.
She also talks at length about vaping, and a related phenomenon called “juuling”, serious problems that many parents are worried about today.
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1. How to respond when your teen says ‘but nobody else’s parents do that’
“I know it feels unfair because your friends are doing it. I understand that’s really hard for you. And just like I wouldn’t let you eat all your Halloween candy in one sitting–I knew to give you 3 pieces a night–I don’t expect you to understand this either. And you can be as mad as me as you want, I can take it.”
2. When your teen is feeling stressed before a big exam, empathize with their feelings:
3. When you get into the heat of an argument and things are blowing up:
4. Stop an argument when your teen won’t quit pestering you about something:
5. When you find yourself getting triggered by your teenager:
6. What to say when your teen isn’t taking “no” for an answer:
7. Confront your teen about their sleep using the data:
8. When your teen complains about missing out because of your rules:
Step-by-step guides for applying the ideas from this interview
1. Respond Properly to Angry Outbursts:
When you introduce a drastic set of new rules to your teenager (like the idea of putting parental control software on their phone) you’re going to get some resistance. They will call you completely unfair and the worst parent in the world and probably something worse too. Joani recommends being prepared for this. She says you need to avoid fighting back. Remember, you’re in control of the phone. You can shut it off completely if you want. But you need to say this in a nice way. Below are a few examples that Joani gave during our interview and a couple of my favorites as well. On a piece of paper, come up with some of your own. Picture your teenager screaming at you and picture yourself responding calmly and with love using one of these lines. Now you’re ready to talk to your teen about sleep. Good luck!…
- ”I know it feel unfair and I get that your friends are not having controls on their phones. I understand why you feel angry.“
- “Just like I knew not to let you eat all your Halloween candy on one night, I know not to let you Snapchat all night too. I don’t expect you to understand it now.”
- “Being the bad cop is the hardest part of my job. I do it because I love you so much and want to prepare you to put limits on yourself soon.”
2. Collect Data on the Effects of Your Teen’s Sleeping Habits:
3. Confront Your Teen with their Own Data:
4. Uncovering the Emotional Reasons Behind Your Teen’s Behavior:
About Joani Geltman
The author of the bestselling book, A Survival Guide To Parenting Teens: Talking to Your Kids About Sexting, Drinking, Drugs, and Other Things That Freak You Out, Joani Geltman has been featured in or written for USA Today, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Huffington Post, Psychology Today, Mommy & Me, Boston.com, Working Family, Global Post Parenting, and on scores of blogs.
Geltman has spoken to thousands of parents, educators, and students at hundreds of schools. The sought-after speaker delivers more than 40 seminars a year to schools, community groups, businesses, churches, and temples. She has developed seminars such as: Adolescent Psychology The Parent Version, Sexting and Texting What’s A Parent To Do?, Understanding Your Teen’s Drinking and Drug Use, and Bullyproofing Your Teen.
She has served as an adjunct professor for the past two decades at Curry College in Milton, MA. Geltman teaches in the department of psychology, covering child and adolescent development, family psychology, and dysfunctional family life.
A resident of Natick, MA, Geltman earned her Bachelor of Science in education from Lesley College and her Master of social work from Washington University.