Most teens I talk to have said they couldn't live without having access to the Internet or their cell phones. While this response may sound a bit melodramatic (we all know you're not going to die without technology), the reality is that it has become a huge part of all of our lives. As teens, you're in the process of figuring out who you are apart from your family, and that means hanging out with friends and staying connected to them as much as possible. With technology like instant messaging, leaving comments on blogs, message boards, Facebook profiles, and text messaging as well as the good old landline phone, it's easy to keep in touch with your friends 24/7. But as we all know, too much of a good thing is never healthy. Here are some common sense teenagers and cellphones tips to help you figure out when to turn it off.
When you're driving.
A recent study reported that 46 percent of drivers 16 and 17 years old said that they text-message while driving. You need to focus on the road and other drivers—you can't do this when you're looking at your phone. Texting can be a deadly distraction with teenagers and cellphones.
When you really need to concentrate.
If you have to study for a test, researchers have found that attempting to focus while doing several other tasks at once or multi-tasking makes it a lot harder to really absorb what you need to. Having muliple browsers open while chatting and listening to music makes concentrating very difficult.
When you need a good night's sleep.
Did you know that the average teen needs at least 9 hours of sleep every night? If you're still texting your friends under the covers at 2:00 a.m., you're not getting the sleep you need to do your best at school and be less grumpy with your friends!
When you are starting to argue with a friend digitally (over IM, texting, comments, or other digital messaging).
Since you can't see your friend's eyes or facial expressions during these communications, it's easy to misread their tone. Before it becomes a full-blown fight, pick up the phone or better yet, go speak to them in person. If you get in the habit of doing this now, it will help you when you get to the work world, where little digital miscommunications can have big consequences.
When you need to say something important.
It's easy to avoid confrontation by just IMing, texting, or emailing. I'm sure you have all heard of someone who was dumped in a text message! Sometimes there are things you feel like you can only say digitally, but if at all possible, for sensitive communications (like telling someone how you really feel), try talking face-to-face.
When you're at the dinner table.
I know there are emergency situations where you have to pick up your phone or send a text at the table. Most of the time, it can wait. It's just rude to the people you're eating with to be staring at your phone and typing away instead of participating in the conversation.
When you're writing a paper for school.
This is less about turning off technology than switching gears. You get so used to the shorthand you use online, over IM, or in text messages, it's easy to slip a U instead of You into an English paper. What works for talking to friends doesn't necessarily work in the classroom.
When you're spending too much time online (and not enough time in the real world).
The Internet and video games can suck anyone in for hours. It's important to socialize and play online in moderation. Don't forget to pick up a book, meet a friend at the mall, or go outside and play a sport, or just go for a walk.