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How can I get my daughter to put her phone down and talk to me?

November 21, 2013

By YOU Program Facilitator

How can I get my daughter to put her phone down and talk to me?

Question: My daughter just sits on her phone all the time. She won't talk to me. What do I do? 

Answer: As much as technology helps us communicate with each other, it also distracts us from the physical world around us. While it’s harder to break habits than avoid them in the first place, it’s still important to reestablish a relationship with people around you and not just people through the phone and cyberspace.

Start by talking to your daughter and explaining your concern. Make it clear that you don’t object to your daughter or her friends, but rather the lack of quality time you have together. Emphasize the importance of respect and consideration within a family, and that spending quality time communicating with each other is the best way of showing you care about each other.

Then, work with your daughter to set rules and guidelines for designated phone-free family times, such as in the car on the way home from school, around the dinner table, or after a certain time at night.

Once you set these guidelines, make sure you’re following them, too. It may be a good idea to reflect on your own technology use and how much attention you’ve devoted to quality time with your daughter. Even if you aren’t always on your phone, think about whether you are often distracted or preoccupied when your daughter tries to engage with you. You may find that she’s modeling more of your behavior than you might have realized.

For more information on the issues addressed in this question, see the YOU: Your Child's First Teacher book series. See pages 38-39 in Through the Early Years for information on modeling positive behavior. For information about making time for each other, see Through Elementary and Middle School, page 58 and Through High School and Beyond, pages 36–37. See pages 46–47 in Through High School and Beyond for information about monitoring technology use.

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