Teenagers and smartphones are part of today’s generation that adults need to accept, but it doesn’t mean we don’t stop being parents. We must take steps to learn how to help our children manage these devices that seem to be causing a shift in young peoples’ mental health triggered by the overuse of social media.

Nearly half of teens (46 percent) are online almost constantly, while the majority of teens (96 percent) are using the internet every day.

PexelOutdoorsIn a new report by PEW Research Center, the majority of teens (72 percent) admitted they are happier and more peaceful when they are detached from their devices (screens). This is a contrast to the other almost half (44 percent) that say they feel anxious, upset, or lonely.

Whether the teen is feeling happier or anxious, both of these can be concerning since it goes back to the overuse of screen time that is causing them either not to have peace in their life or to have anxiety or even feel lonely.

5 Ways to Create a Smartphone Contract to Manage Screen Time

Creating a smartphone contract between you and your teen is an excellent way to teach your child about these rules and responsibilities, as well as the consequences for not seeing them through. Be sure you go over every item in your contract, giving your teen the opportunity to ask questions and even make suggestions.

These are 5 tips to limit screen-time in a smartphone contract:

1. Limiting notifications: Parents also need to be part of this. For every ring, buzz, whistle, or ding that your phone announces for each app notification, it can trigger a sense of anxiousness—the person feels like they need to check it immediately.

Your teen should be allowed three to five app notifications; this can help limit their screen time and their anxiety.

2. Having phone limits: Designate phone limits and stick to them (not easy, but necessary). According to the most recent PEW report, many parents and teens argue about screen time and devices. If you have a contract (agreement) in place, hopefully it could curb destructive conversations in the home.

What are healthy phone limits? According to Reid Health, for both adults and kids (outside of work and school) it should be an average of 2 hours. It’s probably safe to say that both adults and teens break that number.

3. Eating without electronics: This generation needs to have a better understanding of having a meal without distractions, especially when with friends (or family)—it’s simply disrespectful.

Whether you’re at home or in a restaurant, a no-device rule should always be implemented for both teens and parents.

4. Sleeping “safely”: As much as we want to trust our young people, they are drawn to their screens; night scrolling is real. It can cause unnecessary stress and anxiety, and your teen to lose valuable sleep. Eventually, their academic performance starts slipping and their attitude becomes flippant.

Implement in your contract a designated time at night that all devices are placed into your home safe or lockbox for the night. This will eliminate any temptation for endless texting, scrolling, or other needless social media engagement.

5. Having a social activity challenge: Interestingly, the PEW report shares that the majority of teens (69 percent) say smartphones make it easier for people their age to pursue hobbies and interests. It’s the positive side of screen time, but it’s also how we can take it offline.

Encourage your teen to get involved offline in their favorite hobby (activity) with friends (maybe some they have met online) after you have properly vetted them, rather than always conversing through screens.

In Conclusion

Do you think it’s too late to start a smartphone contract with your teenager? You would be wrong—yes, you may get some pushback, but studies have shown that teens want boundaries, they really want to get offline, and you can help them.