Remember a few years ago when everyone railed against children owning smart phones? Where parents used to object to technology because it was a distraction for their child and, even worse, they could easily carry it around all day? Full disclosure, I was one of the parents that complained. Admittedly, we had rules for home, but there was no local school policy. Teacher X made students entering the classroom place the phone in a basket and it could be confiscated if you forgot or, were caught with it under your desk. Teacher Y; however, liked everyone to research on their phones and take a photo of the whiteboard at the end of class. It was the technology wild west, students were subject to the individual phone rules of each classroom teacher throughout the school day.
Assistive Technology Angle
If there is one approach that is critical to the success of #ADHD teen or tween, it is consistency. As schools gave up resisting cell-phone usage on campus, there was an opportunity to employ them as a teaching tool. With the advent of so many ADHD friendly apps for alarms, planning and focus, we now realize that are benefits to using cell phones in any setting. A phone can tell your child that he/she has 15 minutes left to complete an assignment. While there is prompting from the app; with consistent use, your child can develop time-management #habits because the prompts are acting as an external reference to the passing of time. Life skills can be improved: adding up and segmenting the steps for arriving at work can be saved in the app. For example: one hour to shower and get dressed, 20 minutes to drive to work and 10 minutes to check in + "cushion time" for unpredictable events (car accidents, problems parking etc).
Instant Communication at the point of performance
Texting can help to cement conversations, especially where you have not had the chance to ask your child to repeat their understanding of what you discussed (explicit instruction). You can remind your child of preset expectations by text message or messenger where necessary and with immediacy (e.g. "call me 15 minutes before you need to be picked up"). Similarly, if you know they have a tough test coming up in 30 minutes, you could send them a reminder of steps you have studied together.
Most people are well aware of the dangers of texting and driving. It creates a dangerous distraction and contributes to car accidents. Our children with ADHD already fall into the statistically higher accident-prone group because of their diagnosis. Understand the positives and negatives with use and set expectations. Decide together, on "no use" activities and what level of usage you both consider to be excessive. Get your child's buy-in. Staying up late, #separation anxiety," trouble falling asleep, are all red flags of excessive attachment to a cell phone. Downtime has to be defined and enforced. Along with the rules of engagement, talk to your teen about your values and what are unacceptable practices in communication (with possible legal consequences): sexting, cyber-bullying and trolling.
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