Teen Depression Part Four - The Parent's Role - ROWI

Teen Depression Part Four – The Parent’s Role

  • Posted by ROWI
  • On August 21, 2018


What message are you sending your teen when your phone pulls you away?  The answer should make you think twice before scrolling or answering one more post.  A new study out of the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital shows that the amount of time parents spend with their attention on screens has a startling impact on the mental health and development of children.

The term is being called “technoference” for how technology affects the interaction between parents and their children.  It’s pretty logical, but unfortunately too many parents are just as addicted to their smart phones.  They’re inadvertently hurting their relationship with their kids when they take that call or check that text telling their kids to hold on.

The study showed a direct correlation between time spent on technology (including watching television) with less meaningful interactions between parents and children.  When a child’s time with a parent is interrupted by technology, the child feels frustrated and unimportant.  For a teen already prone to depression and anxiety, the perception that their parent isn’t making them a priority can spiral them into greater hopelessness.

In this day and age with immediate access at our fingertips, it can be hard for many parents to draw a line between work and home.  There are pressures to respond immediately not only to employers and clients, but to friends as well.  Just one more text, checking that email, scrolling through Facebook, it all adds up.  The study reveals that both parents and children who are admit to a technology addiction also find they’re more prone to depression and have more social anxiety.  There really isn’t anything positive coming from this, but the risk is a fracture in relationship that leaves your children feeling unimportant.  Of course no parent sets out with this intention.  But it’s time to be mindful that it is happening.

Just as you want a limit on technology use for your teen, your teen wants to know you’re really present for them.  You can make guidelines for yourself and create new habits or structure if needed.  Some ideas would include


  1. Don’t take phone calls past a certain hour in the evening,
  2. Don’t have the phone out during meals
  3. Put the phone away completely during certain hours of the day


Parents, it’s time to unplug.  Lead by example and put your relationships first.  The real-life benefits for your whole family and your teen’s future will far outweigh the post you’re missing.  It’s not always easy raising teens, but the truth is these years are fleeting and you can’t get them back.  We have to be intentional with our time and what we’re modeling.

Your teen is watching and learning from you, so if you’re prone to checking your phone they most likely are turning to their device too.  Make a date with your teen and leave your phones at home.  It may surprise you how much they share and how it helps your relationship when neither of you are distracted.

If you’re finding that you or your teen is struggling with an addiction to technology and it’s contributing to feelings of depression or anxiety ROWI is here to help your whole family.  We offer both individual and family therapy as well as support groups.  For more information contact ROWI Teen and Parent Therapy Center at (805) 356-3369 or email us at info@rowiteen.com.

Up next in our series we will highlight how ROWI uses many different modalities including surf and art therapy, yoga and mindfulness to treat depression.  These holistic approaches coupled with our evidence-based individual and family therapy will not only help your teen, but will bring healing to the whole family.