Helping Teens Press Pause

Whenever I talk with young people about their mobile devices I ask, “How many of you think people are spending too much time staring at their devices?” An overwhelming majority of hands will go up.

Yet if you followed those same teens for 24 hours, you’d probably catch them “spending too much time staring at their devices.” (And before we start labeling anyone hypocritical… adults are in the same boat).

Let’s review. Teens are aware that phones monopolize too much of their time, but they aren’t really doing much about it.

So why not help them feel the relief of just pressing pause.

Both parents and youth ministries can do this. I’ll start with youth ministries.

How about an event called PRESS PAUSE? Overnight, hanging with friends… and no phones. Your basic 24-hour media fast.

I was recently speaking at a church in Tampa where they did an event similar to this. Families in the church opened up their homes as “host” homes for the evening, then they did an array of activities. You could add a service project during the day Saturday. The sky’s the limit… just no phones.

Add a 20-minute phone binge if you must in the middle of the event. Allow them to post pics, check social media… whatever… just for 20 minutes. Then back to face-to-face conversation.

24 hours is simple. Young people have spent entire weeks at camps without devices and actually felt relieved. Is it really surprising? Most studies show that teens who spend more time on devices are less happy than teens who devote less time to digital media. In fact, kids who spend more time on social media have higher instances of depression and wanting to commit suicide.

Pressing pause might be a good idea?

Parents should always keep their eyes open for venues where media is put aside and face-to-face conversation is forefront. This could be the simple practice of “no tech at the table” at dinner time, or seeking out those creative and fun activities where hands are busy doing other things besides texting and scrolling through Insta.

Common Sense Media provides 5 strategies to do that in this article. I provide 52 ways to do that in this book.

Have you talked with your kids about being smart with their smartphones?

What are some of the ways you get your kids to press pause?

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices, If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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One Response to Helping Teens Press Pause

  1. Kay says:

    We just did a 7-day fast in our family. But our kids aren’t on social media, so they fasted from electronics. Overall it was better for everyone, and we all agree that we need to do it regularly. Put down, or walk away from them on a more regular basis.

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