With so many distractions these days, how can parents truly stay “connected” to their growing kids? 

Dr. Kristine Schlichting and Dr. Amy Alamar, moms of teens and co-authors of an upcoming parenting book, have eight tips.

1.) Open the lines of communication. “The conversation should start as young as seven, eight, even earlier, about phones, computers and how to use them safely,” says Schlichting.

2.) Spot check the kids’ texts and social media. “I always tell them, ‘This is my phone. You’re using it in my house. There are rules here,'” says Schlichting, who has a psychology practice in Glastonbury.

3.) Set limits and don’t worry if junior is unhappy.  “Parents need permission to be parents,” says Alamar, an author and educator. “Sometimes you don’t want to see that disappointed face but that disappointed face could mean you’re doing a good job as a parent.”

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4.)  Plan tech-free time for the family – maybe during dinner – at least three times a week.  Studies show that just having the phone on the table in front of you is distracting.  So, put them away during this time – in a box or a drawer.  And not just the kids.  Mom and Dad, too.

5.) Once you establish this time, be consistent. 

6.) Don’t be afraid of boredom.  “We are a busy culture and there’s a lot of anxiety,” says Schlichting.  “Enjoy quiet time – drawing side-by-side or reading side-by-side with your child.”

7.) Stay optimistic.  Even though this is unchartered territory, every generation had a new frontier to navigate.

It’s all about balance…leading us to our last tip which might surprise you.

8.) Go ahead and embrace technology.  “It’s here, it’s not going anywhere, it’s only going to get more sophisticated, so, you want to stay up on it and you want to enjoy it with your kids,” says Alamar.