How to break teenagers of their smartphone addiction

To the editor:

The problem of cellphone/smartphone use among children has been thoroughly explored. We may even get tired of talking about it. Why? Because there are rarely any useful answers to the problem ? practical, useful and realistic solutions.

So we can all pretty much assume that there is a problem now. Children are inveterate smartphone users, to the point of being compulsive and perhaps addicted. The quickest way to a conflict with a child is to try to take away the smartphone or limit its use to some extent.

Believe it or not, this used to be true of landlines in the sixties and seventies. Parents were always yelling at their teenagers to get off the phone so they might use it or receive an important call, etc. And cars? You bet. Kids were always asking to use the family car and if they were lucky, they were given the use of a car of their own.

But here is the key. The smart parent never actually gave their teenager a car ? they loaned it to them. The car was not a gift; it was a privilege and privileges can be taken away. You get the idea. If the child lived up to the agreements for responsibility, maturity, and discipline where the car was concerned, they were allowed to use it. If they didn?t, they were not. An obvious solution perhaps but still not easy.

The problem today in many families is that the smartphone is purchased by the teenager or it is given free and clear to the teenager. This is a big mistake. If the teenager can claim full ownership, they can argue any form of sanction or regulation regarding its use.

Please. Do not give your child a smartphone. Loan them the phone and stipulate the conditions of its use. This will obviate the need for endless arguments about when, where, and how they might use it. Children need discipline, but most importantly, they need to learn the value of it. You might even say they need to be trained to understand the art of self discipline. But until they learn it, parents are the responsible party where smartphone use is concerned.

The best way, if you can do it, is to nip it in the bud. Start when the child is asking to own their first smartphone. Do not let them buy it for themselves. Buy it for them and set up the conditions for its use. It is extremely difficult and seemingly unfair to take away a phone the child already owns, or has gotten used to using it at their pleasure and whim. It can be done but we all know it is exceedingly difficult.

I wish all parents good luck and eventual success in this worthy endeavor. And I truly sympathize with how difficult it might be. But the rewards are great and they will last. You will see it when they have their own children and do pretty much the exact same thing you did. And Lord knows what kind of electronic device will be around in 25 years. Heaven help us all.


? Jim Turner, Fairfield