If your home is like mine, we started this quarantine with a flexible routine that included Bible reading, work, play, and fun. Each member of our family was excited to have an extra week of spring break. Still, four days into our second week off of school, technology slowly became what each of us turned to, and it began to monopolize our days—my teenager’s days, especially.
Recent articles about kid’s brains on technology, predators online, sexual content being accessed more frequently during this time than during regular daily routines, began to overwhelm me. The daily battle of my teens being home all day and wanting to do more technology became a struggle. I wanted to give myself, and my teens grace that having more screen time right now is okay. Still, I also felt like turning to screens all day was not the solution.
As I prayed about how to see and use technology as a gift in our home during these unprecedented circumstances, I came up with a few ideas. These ideas can help bridge the gap of disconnect between you and your teen during COVID-19 and help model to our teens how to use technology to connect instead of disengage during a time of social distancing.
Ideas to help your teen use tech to connect instead of disengage:
1. Let your teen use technology to engage with your church youth group. So many youth groups have amazing online content right now.
2. Have your teen create a facetime group chat and play games where they can see their friend’s faces.
3. Call or facetime friends and family members you don’t see regularly.
4. Text your teens a bible verse each morning. Encourage them to text their friend’s verses as well.
5. Make a family rule that teens may only play video games when their real-life friends are playing with you. Or better yet, sit down and play with them yourself. I know this can be hard, but this is your chance to do it.
6. Make use of all the educational apps out there. Many are free right now, and there are so many options like museum tours, zoo tours, and reading apps.
7. Surprise your teen and try out a new app you haven’t allowed before. Being at home might give you more time to research, learn, and monitor the new app. We love Bark as a monitor for our teen’s social media apps.
8. Let your teen teach you all about their favorite apps. Take the time to sit down with them and be interested. It is incredible what you will find out when you engage in their world. And teens love to know more than their parents about something.
9. Let them pick a movie and watch it with them.
10. Watch youtube videos together. Our family has logged a lot of hours watching DudePerfect and FailVids.
11. Embarrass your teens by doing a TikTok video with them.
My teens, like yours, are missing their friends right now more than ever. They are missing school (imagine that), routine, athletics, youth group, choir performances, prom. All of the things we equate with the American teen experience. They are struggling to find a new normal just like we are as parents. They are looking to find purpose, connection, and fun in their overturned world.
Technology can fill these voids in our teen’s life through isolation or connection. Technology can also be a source of frustration or a gift to keep us connected during a time of social distancing. We can choose to redeem our family’s time in quarantine by helping our teens use technology to connect instead of disengage during COVID-19.