Do you have a teen you rarely see aside from when they put down their electronics to grab a snack? Do you regularly suggest your teen get outside only to be met with a massive eye roll?
Here are a few tips we use at The Launch Pad Teen Center to help you get your teens unplugged from their devices and plugged into nature.
Set an example
If you want your teen to spend less time scrolling and gaming, assess your own habits. Are you demonstrating how to “unplug”? Is your phone present during dinner?
The more you pull away from your device, the more you show your teen it’s possible to enjoy being unplugged.
Schedule outdoor time together; use incentives
Your teen may want to be more active but cannot put down their media. At The Launch Pad we set required times for outdoor activity and offer incentives for teens who help plan, balancing structure and independence.
The Launch Pad staff provide structure regarding the amount of time we’re outdoors, while teens decide how we spend our time. Try saying, “I know it’s hard to get outdoors. I want us to spend 1 hour outside weekly totally unplugged. Help me plan and you can choose the movie we watch later.”
Incentives can be mindfully used to help teens overcome a hurdle, like unplugging and becoming more active. The rewarding feeling of doing new things helps build intrinsic motivation.
Create solutions together
Our first approach to “discipline” at The Launch Pad is to sit a teen down for a talk (or a walk and talk) and share our observations.
For example, “I’ve noticed it’s difficult for you to put your phone away during unplugged time.” Following observations, ask for their thoughts. Keep the conversation centered on open-ended questions leading to solutions: “How can we work together to help you unplug?” “In what ways can we support you in being more active?”
Devise a plan for support and ask permission to put it in action, allowing teens to develop independence while enlisting them in their own personal growth.
We hope these tips lead you and your teens away from technology and into nature. Feel free to send us your thoughts and ideas. You can find The Launch Pad’s contact info on our website www.thelaunchpadteencenter.org