If you are a teacher or a parent looking to break through a teenager’s screen addiction, nothing is more important than avoiding device hypocrisy yourself.

Technology is everywhere. Digital communication (and the reliance on the devices that go with it) has become a crucial part of the professional and personal lives of most adults. Teenagers see this and are quick to use it to justify their own compulsions to constantly stay logged into their own digital lives.

That’s not fair!

Fairness is a concept that exists at the front of the brain and on the tip of the tongue of most teenagers. As teens transition from child to adult, they begin shaping an ever widening world view based primarily upon reacting to what they are exposed to.

While adults might not feel teenage rationales of what is fair and what is not are always accurate, perception is a powerful force. This is a crucial piece for both teachers and parents to remember when trying to connect with teens.

Do as I do, not just as I say

If you are expecting a teenager to put down their electronic devices during class or family time, lead by example. Don’t just put a phone on vibrate or set your tablet to sleep; turn them off and put them physically out of the social space.

If all it takes to check back in with a device is a button press and a quick glance, you are more likely to give in to the temptation to do so and ruin the example you are trying to set. Use the longer boot-up times of your devices to your own advantage by making it that much more difficult to use them.

Share your experience

Once you are sure you have gotten your digital compulsions under control, then (and only then) you are ready to have an open conversation with the teens in your life about when it is appropriate to engage with their digital lives. Be open about what it took for you to be able to put your digital life on hold for the meaningful times of your real life.

Keep in mind, as important as your digital life is to you, a teenager’s digital presence is likely even more tightly intertwined with his or her own concept of self. Don’t ever to justify the degree to which your digital presence is different or more important than someone else’s; remember, perception matters. Just as hypocrisy can lead to arguments about fairness, condescension is a surefire path to disconnection.

Then What?

Ultimately, once you have a teen’s attention, it is important to make that time quality time. Be prepared to demonstrate that real, face-to-face experiences have a value that cannot be replicated on a screen.

How have you been able to remove technological distractions from your life? Share your valuable experiences with our readers in the comments below.