Supporting Adolescent Technology Use

Supporting Technology Use in Adolescents

Smartphones are a crucial part of how many people stay connected. Due to adolescent’s psychological need to be social, finding ways to engage with peers is important (Hamilton). Applications used on devices (smartphones, tablets, computers) allow for a modification to physical interactions. By using smartphones, people can video chat, communicate through social media, and play interactive video games. Through social media, school aged children find ways to stay connected with friends and family. Adolescents can interact by commenting on posts made by friends, using messaging options or playing interactive games.

Time spent in front of a device doesn’t have to be a negative experience for an adolescent. The quality of content examined while using social media is more significant than the time spent in front of a smartphone (Hamilton). By using hashtags and the search options, one can find articles or related posts relevant to something that might be a difficult topic to discuss in person. For example, it is a positive experience if a resource or a piece of information found on social media can help reduce stress (Festl). Also, using the sites for national or worldwide news can keep adolescents informed about unforgettable historical events (Hamilton).

Because these moments in history can be tragic, it is important that adolescents are viewing accurate information. Social network sites can provide correct and unbiased news that can help shape the minds of children. Making sure that the adolescent knows how to successfully navigate through the misinformed data will be an important lesson (Hamiltion). Teach the teenager how to check for credible sources. If the adolescent does come across something that is derogatory to a certain group of people, this might be a good time to have an open discussion about factual and historical events.

The social network sites also give people the chance to use creativity to express feelings and talent (Festl). Creating memes/videos, choreographing a dance, or writing a passage are examples of using social media as a creative outlet. Many people were seeking ways to reduce stress or anxiety due to events such as the recent pandemic, riots, elections, etc. Outlets such as social media gave teenagers a way to express feelings surrounding these events. There are different ways to express how one feels and finding a productive method could be found through these sites.

Adults and teenagers can work together to make screen time more productive for everyone. As a caregiver, the more information that is known about certain applications, the easier it will be to understand a child’s desire for social media. Have an open conversation about the sites and ask how to use the applications (Hamilton). The teenager could exhibit a sense of pride knowing that teaching someone helped mitigate a situation. Downloading the applications with the adolescent and figuring out the features together can help strengthen a relationship by creating a mutual bond. Many of these social media sites have options where restrictions can be placed including the amount of time spent on the site, blocking certain posts from coming onto personal pages or blocking certain people from any contact. Modeling social media usage in the teenager’s presence will help enforce expectations (Hamilton).

If the hope for a child is to reduce the use of social network sites, then the caregiver also must model this behavior. The limits that are put on the teenager will have more of an impact if they are followed by the adults as well. One of the best techniques for teaching is modeling the behavior that is desired. Using social media can also help regulate a young adult’s time (Festl). If there is a restriction of the amount of time on these sites, then the child needs to regulate how to use that time. Planning time away from the screen can be productive and a lesson of independence. A plan for the rest of the day can be put in place by the adolescent. Self-regulation is a skill that is required throughout adulthood and can be practiced by using and taking breaks from social media.

Using social media provides a platform for a teenager’s creativity while feeding psychological needs. Skills such as self-regulation are practiced while the child has limits on smartphone usage. Smartphones can have a positive impact on adolescents if the use is productive.

Works Cited

Hamilton, Jessica L. et al. “Teens and Social Media During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Staying Socially Connected While Physically Distant.” (April 2020). https://psyarxiv.com/5stx4

Festl, Ruth. et al. (2020) “Do Smartphones and Social Network Sites Become More Important When Experiencing Stress? Results From Longitudinal Data.” Computers in Human Behavior, vol. 109 (August 2020). https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0747563220300935

About the Author


Saniyyah Khalilallah worked in a Montessori classroom for over a decade, first as an assistant and then later as a certified guide (Primary, 3 – 6 years). Now, she is writing books for children, consulting and tutoring. Contact her at skmontessori.com or saniyyahkhalilallah@gmail.com.

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