Hello, welcome to Tips on Teens. My name is Kent Toussaint, licensed marriage and family therapist
at Teen Therapy Center here in Woodland Hills. I'm also the executive director and chairman
of the board of a nonprofit organization, Child and Teen Counseling, where we train therapists
who are in grad school to work with kids, teens, and families and offer affordable counseling
to those kids, teens, and families. Anyways, every Wednesday at noon, I answer your parenting
questions, and here is the question of the week. Thanksgiving at our house was dominated by
the PlayStation and phones. It wasn't just my kids, but cousins, aunts, uncles, and even grandparents.
The only lasting conversation was about memes and YouTube videos. This is not how I remember
the holidays when I was a kid, and it's not the memory that I want to pass down to my children. Christmas
will be at our house with all the same relatives and some close friends too. I don't want it to
be a repeat of Thanksgiving. what can
I do to make Christmas about family time and not screen time? I think a lot of parents can relate
to this. I've already, you know, been back for just a couple days from a week off and I've heard
this already from several of my clients and my families. So I think this is a very prevalent question.
First thing I would do is I would make sure you get your spouse on board. If you want to have a no
screen Christmas, make sure you and your spouse are on the same page at the your house. If you
guys are not on the same page, it's going to cause a lot of tension. So find a way to make a compromise
the two of you. If you guys can get on the same page, you probably get your kids on that page. And
if all of you are on the same page, and I know this sounds like science fiction, but go with me.
You got to try it. Because if you go this alone, everyone's gonna think you're crazy, right?
But if you can at least get your spouse on board, and get your kids kind of on board to plan, what
do we do without
screens? Because 30 years ago, we We did these holidays and we didn't have phones or Playstations.
We might have had Playstations, Nintendos, whatever, but they weren't nearly as prevalent
as they are now, or as engrossing. So maybe the compromise is you have the game on the TV, like
the football game, or the basketball game, or you have the Christmas music on, whatever you
have. So make sure that you guys, as a unit, have some kind of plan. Board games, card games, arts
and crafts, fun activities to keep people involved and engaged. because people today need
something to do. It's hard for them to sit and engage in conversation because they're not used
to it anymore. And once you have that then make sure all the invitees are notified that hey we're
having a no -screen Christmas and maybe the compromise is if you really need your phone, need
to check a phone call or a text, you need to catch up on your memes you can take your phone and go
outside and check out there and come back in put
your phone away. Maybe that's the middle ground where inside the house there's no screens.
That way people don't feel like they're out of touch. If they need to contact their girlfriend
or their kid or whoever their their work associate, they still have that access, but they just
need to go step outside. Kind of like if they need to smoke a cigarette. Need to smoke a cigarette?
Go outside. When you're done, you can come back in. Maybe it's kind of like that analogy. The
caveat or the flying the ointment here is what about pictures? People want to take candid photos.
You want to take a picture of the big meal and the table. You want to take pictures of kids opening
presents, and that's where the hard thing comes in because people are gonna use their phone
to take pictures. And if they're taking pictures, then they're gonna post it on Facebook or
Instagram, and they're checking their memes, and they get lost in their phones because we all
get lost in our phones. And maybe you have to set
up a time of, this is when you can use phones to do this. Maybe you invest in a bunch of little cheap
digital cameras to pass around, and then you have little thumb drives, Hook them up to computers,
you know, drop box them to everybody, I don't know. But you need to consider these as options
and as potential drawbacks. But it's not insurmountable. Some people have a problem with it.
If you find that half the party is staying outside the whole time, you can't convince them. You're
not going to convince them not to go off the screen. You can't stop that. And if you find that people
just aren't respecting it, and you can't control it, and it's ruining your Christmas, and maybe
the next holiday season, maybe you just let someone else have at their house. Or maybe you and
your family do something else entirely, you know? Maybe you guys go take a trip somewhere, or
have an intimate family gathering for yourself, and go to someone else's house if they want
to. In that way, you're not feeling
responsible to enforce these rules, because it's... you can't make other adults do things
they don't want to do, you know? Also, if they're bringing kids, you may want to ask those adults
to Kind of enforce rules for your kids. So you're not the policeman for everyone It's a big thing.
It's a tough task. I wish this was easier. I understand the pull that screens have on us I understand
the desire to distance ourselves from those screens It's important screens are dominating
and we need to find other ways to communicate outside of memes and YouTube videos. I totally
agree We can talk about this for a long time, but we only have a short time to talk about it here
If you want to talk about this more Feel free to call me anytime if you have a question. You'd like
me to answer next week You can email me at tips on teens at teen Therapy center comm or you can direct
messages here on Facebook or Instagram Or give me a call love to have your phone call. Anyways,
I'll see you guys next week on Wednesday
12 o 'clock I'll answer the next question. Have a great week. Bye. Bye guys
In our hyper-digital age, in-person communication can become tough. For many families (regardless of age) it’s easy to engage with a screen than with each other. This week’s #TipsOnTeens question comes from a parent who is tired of holiday gatherings being spent on devices instead of on family:
“Thanksgiving at our house was dominated by the PlayStation and phones. It wasn’t just my kids, but cousins, aunts, uncles and even grandparents. The only lasting conversation was about memes and YouTube videos. This is not how I remember the holidays when I was a kid and it’s not the memory that I want to pass down to my children. Christmas will be at our house with all the same relatives and some close friends too. I don’t want it to be a repeat of Thanksgiving…What can I do to make Christmas about family time, not screen time?”
Tips On Teens is a vlog that our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint, hosts every Wednesday at 12:00pm on Facebook Live. He will be answering parenting questions submitted to us by you to our email at TipsOnTeens@TeenTherapyCenter.com. Send us any questions you might have about parenting kids and teens and Kent will be answering them every week!
Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE! Check out our page here – https://www.facebook.com/TeenTherapyCenter/
If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.