5 ways to break your teen’s (and your) smartphone habit

72% of teens need to text immediatelyNew research by nonprofit Common Sense Media supports the reality of digital addiction when it comes to teens and their cell phones.

The research shows that 50% of teens feel addicted to their devices, and 72% feel the need to immediately respond to texts, social media messages, and other notifications.

If 72% of teens feel compelled to respond immediately, that urge to peek at the screen will likely take a teen driver’s focus off of the road.

Try one of these tactics to lessen the amount of screen time in and out of the car:

  1. Turn off notifications. Constant alerts and reminders that messages are waiting only add to the urgency to respond. If dings and buzzes aren’t firing every five seconds, you’ll be less likely to stay constantly distracted.

  2. Try an app blocker when driving. There are several app blockers on the on the market that disable texting and social media apps when driving more than 10 mph, yet they still allow for emergency calls.

  3. Reserve the first hour of your day for you. Resist the urge to kick into your usual smartphone routine and don’t check on anything using your smartphone for the first hour of your day. Better yet, reserve the last hour of your day to be tech-free as well.

  4. Take a tech timeout as a family. Beyond banning smartphone use while driving, carve out time in the whole family’s day where everyone puts away their devices and focuses on being present. Find a place in your home to “ground” all technology out of reach, and connect with each other instead.

  5. Get some perspective. In denial about how much time you actually spend on your phone? The Checky app (free for iPhone and Android) tells you how many times per day you unlock your phone. The Moment app (free on iPhone) tracks how many minutes you spend on your phone, and you can even set a limit on your usage and get notified when you’ve hit your maximum. (Just don’t check either of those apps while driving!)

Looking for more resources on safe teen driving? Check out our Safe Teen Driver website for tips on surviving parent-teen driving lessons, how to add a driver to your insurance, finding a safe car for your teen, and much more.

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