Managing Mobile Phone Usage in Young Adults

The debate about mobile phones in schools has been ongoing for several years now, and recently it has been reignited after the Department of Education (DfE) published the ‘Mobile Phones in Schools’ guidance. In this blog, we will discuss some key facts about the impacts of mobile phone usage on young people and provide a few ideas on how – and why – parents might limit their children’s screentime.

Do mobile phones impact children’s mental wellbeing?

We have discussed what can positively impact your child’s wellbeing more than once at Cardiff & Vale Tutors – which you can read more about here (https://cardiffvaletutors.co.uk/news/what-is-wellbeing/) –such as spending time in nature, exercising, and having a good sleep routine. Too much screentime, whether on a mobile phone, PC or games console, takes time away from doing those other things that are essential to growth and development in our young people. The DfE claims that by prohibiting the use of mobile phones in schools, students will be able to practice socialising in the real world (1).

There is also the issue of online bullying. According to data from the Office of National Statistics (2020), one in five children have experienced online bullying (2). Unlike in the past, when school bullying would stay in school and children would have a break from it on the weekends or in the evenings, now students can instantly contact each other through various social media platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram at any time: day or night.

In truth, social media, the internet and mobile devices are new; we are only just learning about their impacts. Therefore, it’s vital that parents are aware of what their children are doing on mobile devices, who they talk to and how much time they are spending doing so. It is about having the right balance: there are experiences that our young people – and us adults – might miss out on in the real world if we spend too much time glued to screens, and in one of the worst-case scenarios, they might be getting bombarded with nasty messages online, which they should be protected from.

How can we encourage a limited screentime?

This can seem like an impossible task because so many adults struggle to self-regulate how much time they spend online – and this too can have a negative impact on children as while they grow up, they see their parents with a phone stuck to their hand.

One idea is to lead by example. Show your children that sometimes there is a ‘no-phone’ time. Mealtimes, for example, could be a time without devices, or children are doing homework to enable them to concentrate rather than check notifications.

Most smartphones now come with a ‘wellbeing centre’ where you can set timers for specific apps. Once the child has spent their allocated time, 20 minutes for example, playing games, scrolling or watching a video, the app will close. This can bevery useful as it relieves the parent of needing to actively monitor the child’s screen time. However, check the settings – some apps allow adding extra 5 minutes, so a 3rd party app with a stricter, password-protected system might be a good idea.

Another idea to try is to limit where and when your child can use their phone. Most will take their device everywhere – even to the loo – and many will sleep with it right next to them. Designate a place in the house where phone use isn’t allowed- this could be where most meals are had. Specify a period of time when your child can use their phone: perhaps for an hour when they return home from school; and a time when they cannot use it, like a few hours before their bedtime.

Though this topic is vast and continuously evolving – so much so that not everything could be fit into one blog – we hope that this has given you a few ideas on how to manage mobile phone screentime and the impacts that too of it much can have.

 

This blog is written by Alek Dul.  Do check out all of our Blogs by visiting www.cardiffvaletutors.co.uk/blog/

 

 

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