Joyce Marter Fox 32 News Teens and Technology

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The internet and social media have become focal points for America’s children, but what kind of impact is that having on them? Parents can try to limit their time online, but that can be easier said than done. Joining us to discuss the ramifications and offer some tips is Joyce Marter, a licensed psychotherapist and speaker from Urban Balance.

Interviewer: Thanks for coming in today, Joyce. You’ve been researching this topic and wrote an article about it, which is why we wanted to have you here. What are we finding is happening to America’s children as a result of social media and the internet right now?

Joyce Marter: In my practice and as a parent of daughters who are 12 and 15, I see that children are glued to their cell phones. This raises concerns about their emotional and social development. They’re always on their phones, which affects how they learn to communicate, resolve conflicts, develop self-esteem, and form a sense of identity. Simple aspects of interaction, like kindness and empathy, are not being fully learned.

Interviewer: Right, kids aren’t really learning about mutuality, empathy, or how to reflect compassion in relationships. This is important because empathy promotes intimacy and helps resolve conflicts.

Joyce Marter: Absolutely. Texting, email, and Snapchat miss the emotional intent and response of the other person, leading to a limited form of communication.

Interviewer: So, what can we as parents do about this? Taking the phone or computer away is difficult because kids need them for homework and other tasks.

Joyce Marter: It is difficult and not necessarily advisable to take them away. Dr. Jean Twenge, in her book “iGen,” explains these concerns well. It’s important not to get into a power struggle. Kids need their phones for safety and information, and it’s part of their culture now. Instead of physical confrontations, set healthy limits and boundaries. If necessary, you could call your service provider to stop service for a week.

Interviewer: That seems like a more manageable approach. Set healthy boundaries and detach if necessary.

Joyce Marter: Exactly. Be a healthy role model—don’t tell them to get off their phones if you’re always on yours. Set household expectations like no phones during meals and no phones before bed to ensure good sleep hygiene. I have a friend who requires kids to put their phones in a basket when they visit, and although my daughter finds it annoying, she admits they have a good time.

Interviewer: That’s a great idea, but what if teens resist, saying no one wants to come over because of the no-phone rule?

Joyce Marter: We can only make small efforts and take small steps. Talk to them about the importance of unplugging. Ironically, there are apps like Calm and Headspace that help with meditation and mindfulness, teaching them deep breathing and relaxation techniques.

Interviewer: Those are great tips. If people want more information on Urban Balance, where should they go?

Joyce Marter: They can visit

Interviewer: Thanks for coming in. You always have good advice, relevant for both teens and adults.

Joyce Marter: Thank you.

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