A teen’s bedroom: messes, media, & more-River City Counseling

In the first two entries in my series on the teen’s bedroom, I advised parents on how to balance their teen’s need for alone time in their room with the need for family time.  In my second, I looked at door locks and the plusses and minuses of searching their room when parents suspect inappropriate behavior.  In this entry, I’ll look at a variety of other parental challenges related to “the bedroom.”

Parents often talk about how messy their kid’s room is and wonder if they should demand that it be cleaner, or if they should choose to let it go and focus on other issues.  Without keeping close statistics, it’s about 50-50.  Half of the parents I talk to are concerned about the level of mess and demand that cleaning be done regularly.  The other half typically tells me that, short of the HAZMAT crew needing to pay a visit, they shut the door and ignore the mess.  So, it’s up to you to decide if it’s a battle worth having.

Cell phones:  again and again, parents express concerns about their kids being sleep deprived and getting through the day only when fueled by “Monsters.”  Sure, late nights are sometimes filled with homework and are unavoidable.  Other times, it’s due to kids spending hours at night texting with friends.  Granted, whoever said something awful to somebody else seems crucial to discuss in real-time, but it can wait until the morning to discuss.  I don’t see a compelling enough reason for kids to have access to their phones when they should be sleeping.  For the technically savvy, shut down their phones at a reasonable time.  If you’re technically challenged (like me,) simply take their phones at bedtime.

Computers:  in a perfect world, your kid will do schoolwork on a computer in a public area of the house.  Practically, there are too many distractions to work at the kitchen table, and your kid will need to work in their room.  Of course, this comes with numerous distractions (e.g. Facebook) that slow things down (and contribute to sleep deprivation.)

Parents have a few choices for guiding their kids.  First, I’m a fan of computer screens facing the door and parents monitoring homework time.  Also, keep in-mind that a hurried click when you enter the room probably means something other than homework is being done.  Sure your kid will plead that they need Internet access to do their homework.  After all, how could they ever write an English essay without moment-to-moment feedback and editing by their friends?  It they need it for homework, monitor it.  If they don’t, then they shouldn’t be on it.  Also, remember that you can control Internet access and shut it down during homework time, unless it’s being used for specific work.  Once work is finished, you can turn it back on

Music:  is it really necessary?  I know kids say that they can multitask and need it to do their work.  I don’t buy it.  When they go to college they can choose to do both; for now it’s your call.

Finally, video games: in general, I’m not a huge fan of kids playing in their rooms.  Again, in reality, many of your kids will play them there, and it’s your job to monitor what and when they play.  Generally speaking, they’re a privilege that should be allowed for a limited period of time, typically after homework is finished.

I realize my suggestions are pretty strict and will likely lead to conflict, at least in part due to teens thinking that unlimited access to their electronic toys is their God-given right.  Remember, though, that you are providing these privileges (even if it’s the energy to charge phones they’ve paid for) and it’s perfectly reasonable to monitor their usage, in order to help your teens be as rested and successful as possible.



4 Responses to A teen’s bedroom: messes, media, & more-River City Counseling
  1. elizabeth
    March 8, 2013 | 4:07 pm

    Like the idea of the kids leaving the phones with the parents after a certain hour. Also read that Facebook is becoming less popular and eventually kids may spend less time on their phones. . Parents can only hope…….

  2. judi
    March 8, 2013 | 7:08 pm

    Your articles are very helpful. What insight do you have for 21 year olds, drinking at home? Is it Ok on special occasions, nightly etc. Who buys? etc Thanks!

    • Steve DeBenedetti-Emanuel
      March 11, 2013 | 3:34 am

      Hi Judi:

      Thank-you for your question. It’s a good one. It’s a difficult balance. Of course, the 21-year-old can legally drink. At the same time, it isn’t necessarily up to you to provide the alcohol. As with other difficult parenting issues, I encourage you to raise your concerns with your 21-year-old and set some expectations for the household. Just because he/she is 21, doesn’t make it ok to be drunk when staying in the house.

      Having a child who can drink legally is a difficult transition for parents. No longer can you tell your adult child that they can’t drink in the house because they’re not 21. My hope, though, is that, if you drink alcohol, you’ve modeled responsible drinking over the years. Thus, my hope is that your 21-year-old will also drink responsibly.

      Good luck.

  3. christina
    March 13, 2013 | 5:13 am

    Steve, thanks for this inciteful post. I’m wondering about allowing my kids to have screens in their rooms at home, though. I’m worried that they will think I don’t trust them if I start monitoring everything so much, since they’re good kids I can trust. Your article is great food for thought!!

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