Teen on phone
Teen on phone. Picture used for illustrative purpose only. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Our 15-year-old spends most of the time in her bedroom room whiling away hours on social media. She gets sulky when we ask her to spend time with us as a family, we end up arguing. Is there a way to change the situation?

I’m sure every parent of a teenager will identify with this issue. It seems that social media is not only ruling her life, but yours too. It’s time to reassert your authority as parents and have clear boundaries. After all, though she may want to be seen as becoming a grown up, she is still a child in need of guidance.

Russell Hemmings

Teenagers always push to gain greater independence. It’s a natural part of becoming ready to fly the nest and make their own way in life. So, your daughter’s behaviour fits in with this pattern. However, that doesn’t mean teens don’t have to learn that there are responsibilities that come with growing up. One of them being it’s important to treat people with respect and the other being we don’t always get to do what we want to do.

Sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to, because that’s the right thing to do. Spending quality time with your family falls into both these categories and you’ve probably allowed her too much leeway on both counts.

The other issue is the amount of times she is spending on social media and the rather negative fallout that’s creating. While social media has many positive effects, it is well documented that through social media, young people can also get involved in all sorts of worrying situations that can affect their self-esteem and general well-being. This is where you need to step in as parents and engage with her, because it’s vital that parents are able to monitor what’s going on with their child’s “technological” world. Reopen lines of communication with her. It’s vital for young people to be responsible digital citizens. Parents need to walk the fine line between allowing reasonable levels of privacy for their teenage children and ensuring they are being safe online.

So, first, sit down with your husband and work out a new set of rules that balance your daughter’s natural need to be more independent with her family responsibilities. Once you’ve worked out how you can do this, talk to her about it. Not when you’re angered or when she’s sulky, but at a time when you can both be calm and positive. Explain to her the rules, your reasoning behind them and the consequences for not following them and then expect the fallout. This is likely not to go down too well with her and initially you might be in for a rocky ride. However if you’re determined to stand firm and she sees that boundaries are not for pushing, then I believe you will start to see a difference in her attitude. Give her responsibilities around the house and build in a reward structure

Russell Hemmings is a Dubai-based life coach and cognitive behavioural hypnotherapist (russellhemmings.co.uk).