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How to Help Your Teen Stop Texting and Driving!

Are you so attached to your screen that you simply can’t ignore a notification while driving? Well as hard as it is for us, imagine how impossible it is for your teen! One of my favorite things about being Global Ambassador for TeenSafe is spreading the word about how parents can be more effective in keeping their teens concentrating on the road rather than their screens while driving. Today’s GKIS article may help save your life, and your children’s, without the shaming lecture. This month’s #GKISScreenGoal is . . .

We are no strangers to the risks of driving and smartphone use. How many of us can confidently say that we don’t use our phones at all while we drive?

Shockingly, studies show that only 2% of smartphones users “never text and drive under any circumstances” (Alchley, 2010). Teenagers are among the most guilty culprits for distracted driving. A 2012 AAA Foundation in-car study found that teens are distracted during up to a quarter of their time behind the wheel. Screen activities, like texting, navigating, selecting music, and selecting and downloading music, are common distractors. The compelling urge to multitask combined with the dire need for more hours in the day compels us to be compulsively conditioned to attend to our screens, 24/7. Further, there has been a considerably large increase in smartphone apps (read distractions) available for download. Today, not only are teens texting, many are also using social media and gaming apps like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pokémon Go, and even taking “selfies” with apps like Snapchat while driving.

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Every parent has told their teen not to use their phone and drive, yet, “according to 77% of teens, adults tell kids not to text while driving—while texting themselves while driving “all the time” (Alchley, 2010). They notice, and they emulate what we do. Why should our teens listen to us when we remind them not to use their phones and drive if we don’t take our own advice?

Peer Influence

To make matters more difficult, our driving habits aren’t the only influence on our teens; “75% say the practice is common among their friends” (U.S. Newswire, 2012). With all of the car accidents and deaths as a result of screen media distractions behind the wheel, it’s just as important as ever to talk with your teens about reducing their distractions while on the road. Being a positive role model in safe driving and promoting open communication will not only benefit your teen, but hopefully your teen will follow your lead and become a role model for their friends. In our crazy busy lives, we all could use some reminders. Even teens agree; “62% of teens feel that getting reminders from their own parents not to text and drive would be effective in getting them or their friends to stop texting and driving” (U.S Newswire, 2012).

GKIS Tips For Distraction Free Driving

  • TeenSafe has developed a management app that pauses your child’s phone remotely, effectively blocking incoming messages. Other helpful apps, like TrueMotion, CellControl, or TextLimit, alert parents or disables the phone when it is used while driving.
  • Keep your phone on silent and put away when driving. Even when your phone is on silent, seeing your screen light up every time you get a notification can be very distracting.
  • If you’re the kind of person that can’t stand radio commercials, create a music playlist on your phone so you don’t have to go searching through your phone for a song while you drive.
  • If you need to take an important phone call, just pull over to the side of the road.
  • Use Bluetooth. While it is still mentally distracting to be talking on the phone and you aren’t able to pull over, Bluetooth keeps your hand on the wheel and your eyes on the road.
  • Plan ahead and look up directions before starting the car.
  • While there are days were running late are unavoidable, do your best to be ready before you get in the car. That means makeup, hair, and breakfast are already taken care of rather than dining while dashing.

Last but not least, regularly remind your teens that using their smartphone while driving is not worth losing their life. Remind them that driving is a huge responsibility and their car is a 2-ton weapon. With this information and these tips I hope you and your teen can support each other in working towards becoming screen media safe behind the wheel.

Thanks CSUCI Intern, Brooke Vandenbosch for reminding us that texting and driving just isn’t worth the risk. For a reminder about why constant connection to their friends is so compelling to teens, brush up on your developmental psychology with my GKIS crash course about teens!

I’m the mom psychologist who will help you GetKidsInternetSafe.

Onward to More Awesome Parenting,

Tracy S. Bennett, Ph.D.
Mom, Clinical Psychologist, CSUCI Adjunct Faculty

TeenSafe & Distracted Driving

Photo Credits

Texting While Driving
Girl in Car

Works Cited


U.S. Newswire [Washington] (2012). 43% of Teens Say They Text & Drive; 77% Say Adults Warn Against Risks, but Text & Drive ‘All The Time’: With Prom, Graduation, Summer, May Starts ‘100 Deadliest Days’ On the Road for Teen Drivers; AT&T Kicks Off Nationwide Car Simulator Tour

Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.summit.csuci.edu:2048/docview/1012727422/fulltext/CC04537D5DBF498APQ/1?accountid=7284

Atchley, P., Atwood, S., Boulton, A. (2011). The Choice to Text and Drive In Young Drivers: Behavior May Shape Attitude. Accident Analysis & Prevention, Vol 43. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0001457510002095

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