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Worried About Your Teen on Social Media? Here’s How to Help.

  • September 22, 2021

Remove phones, tablets or other electronic devices from your child’s bedroom at night. And if your teenager uses their phone as an alarm clock, buy an alarm clock that is not connected to the internet, Dr. Twenge said.

Choose one platform and one time period, she added. You could say, for example, that your child can use Instagram for 30 minutes a day. You can set that limit via your phone — on Apple look for the Family Sharing settings and on Android you can use an app called Family Link. When the time limit is up, the app on your child’s phone will no longer be accessible. To prevent unwanted downloads, there is also an Ask to Buy setting on Apple phones that will send a request to the parent when kids want to buy or download a new item.

If you have a kid who is tech savvy and might try to override settings like this, you may need to physically remove their device after the time limit, Dr. Heitner said.

You can also consider getting your child a Gabb phone, which does not allow for web or app browsing, or Pinwheel, a smartphone with multiple built-in parental controls, including the ability to monitor your child’s communications.

A 2019 report from Common Sense Media found that most tweens and teenagers with a phone or tablet do not use apps or tools to track their device time, however the experts said this is something everyone, including parents, can benefit from.

If you prefer not to monitor social media use electronically, you can simply ask your child to hand over their phone while they focus on homework or another activity, Dr. Twenge said.

It’s important for kids (and adults) to understand that the more we pay attention to our phones the less we’re investing energy in the rest of our lives and, as a result, “the rest of our lives actually become less interesting,” said Anna Lembke, the chief of the Stanford Addiction Medicine Dual Diagnosis Clinic at Stanford University and the author of “Dopamine Nation.”

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