I Took My Daughter’s Phone Away. Guess What Happened Next!

limit screen time

I’ve observed that there are certain people who can manage how much time they spend on their phones and those who…have more trouble. The latter are drawn in by their phones like a magnet almost 24/7. My teen daughter is one of those people. After many months of trying everything we knew to limit her screen time, my husband and I took the phone away completely. It was time to try a phone detox.

Here’s what happened next. She was angry. Yes, she was upset. Very upset. However, beyond that, we saw our teen change in these five ways over two months without a phone.

1. She rediscovered her hobbies.

Instead of reading texts and online articles, she started reading books again. Instead of using art apps, she started drawing again. She even took up a new hobby: jewelry making. And she started baking again (praise the Lord, because I do not bake)!

2. She learned to plan ahead.

She couldn’t text friends, so her plans weren’t quite as last-minute. Did she get left out of friends’ plans? Maybe a little bit. But her friends got used to the idea that she had to talk at school or when she saw them. And her “real” friends made the effort (bonus: she found out who her real friends are).

3. She interacted with people more.

Since she was not zoned into her phone (Hello? Earth to Daughter! Are you there?), she was simply more aware of what we were doing. And with more free time (a.k.a. “boredom”), she was more willing to join in. She remembered it is fun to play a game with her siblings once in a while.

4. She took care of her chores better and with less arguing.

My daughter didn’t suddenly wake up one morning and ask how she could help around the house. She didn’t say, “I just love doing chores!” However, her argument surrounding her chores always had been over not having enough time to do them in her busy day. Without the distraction of her phone, she found she actually did have the time to do them.

5. Her overall attitude improved, slowly but surely.

As we figured out how life worked without a cell phone, my daughter’s anxiety started to decrease. With less social screen-to-screen interaction and more face-to-face, she and her friends had clearer, kinder communication. And on top of that, she was less annoyed with us because we weren’t telling her to put her phone away constantly and we were less annoyed with her. This ultimately led to about 85 percent fewer arguments.

Needless to say, taking a long break from the phone has been a relief. I realize there are lots of positive uses for cell phones and a phone detox is not a forever fix. But because I’ve seen such a difference, I’m encouraged. We can come up with creative solutions to phone overuse and addiction if we keep talking about it and making the bold decisions our kids need.

What strategies have you used to help your teen use his or her phone in a healthy way?