Tips to train your teen to put aside the device and drive

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

Cyber Safety for Kids and Families with Joanna and Jodie on 103.9FM The Fish Family Morning Show

Texting and mobile connectivity is incredibly seductive. Brain science tells us that the brain can become addicted to the stimulation of the tap and click connectivity of social media and other apps, such as gaming. So it takes a disciplined mind to not allow the smart devices to be the thing that governs our attention span in life especially when it comes to driving the car. The texting while driving temptation  represents the seminal question of the digital age: Who is in charge? You or the device?

See related: Teaching teens how to be a smart device user while driving

Tips for putting aside the device in order drive

• Be the example. Model the cyber-safe driving behavior you expect for your teen. From the time you strap your infant into the car seat, you are training your child how to drive a car by your example. The use of seatbelts, honoring traffic laws, and your focused attention on the road while behind the wheel are behaviors that can be reinforced by conversations about the distractions. So while you are driving, make sure that you put away your device, or have your child or respond to incoming texts or calls on your device if need be during long drives. Or pull over to respond if need be. The main thing is that your children witness you paying full attention to your job as the driver to get everyone to your destination safely.

• Don’t text/call your child when you think they are driving. It is better to have your teen contact you at designated times or destinations if you need confirmation that they safely arrived somewhere. And be clear with your child that you do not expect them to respond while they are driving. If your child is not responding to your texts (when they are not driving), and it is frustrating you, then it is important to have a conversation about it. And express your curiosity (without condemning) about why they are not responding, and give them a chance to answer. You may learn something that will help you improve communication. Examining motive is very helpful. Usually fearful and manipulative feelings kill open communication.

• Identify tools to help keep texting life purpose-driven. Have your teen do the research with you for tools that help manage texting life to put aside the device while driving and/or other important things like studying and family time. One good example is OtterApp, text life management app to organize text communications and schedule downtime. Make the conversation bigger than texting and driving. Open up dialogue about tools that help you be the one who is in charge of how you manage your attention – make texting and social media serve your purposes in family, school, friendships and hobbies.

Banana Moments Foundation is dedicated to strengthening the parent-child bond in a hyper-connected world. To make a donation, please go go: Donations. Your generous support is greatly appreciated.

My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgment and discretion… Proverbs 3:21



Jodie Stevens, Hostess of The Fish Family Morning Show on 103.9FM, with her cyber mom, Joanna Jullien. They talk cyber safety on Tuesday mornings.

Jodie Stevens, Hostess of The Fish Family Morning Show on 103.9FM, with her cyber mom, Joanna Jullien. They talk cyber safety on Tuesday mornings.

Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and speaker on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber powered world. She is a mother of two grown sons, the author of The Authority In Me: The Power of Family Life in the Network Culture, produces The Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on, and is the CyberParenting advisor on The Fish 103.9FM. Her new book, A Google World in the Garden of Eden: Five Family-Safe Strategies for Texting and Social Media is now available for PC and all eReader formats including Kindle, Nook, iPad.

Jodie Stevens, hostess of The Fish Family Morning Show on 103.9FM The Fish offers insights and lessons learned about faith and spiritual resilience. Check out her blog, Genuine Life with Jodie Stevens, weekday mornings on the Family Morning Show.

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About Joanna Jullien

Joanna Jullien

Joanna ( and her husband have raised two sons in Roseville, CA. She has a degree from U.C. Berkeley in Social Anthropology (corporate culture). Her honors thesis was awarded the Kroeber Prize and funding from National Science Foundation grant. Joanna writes to help parents with the modern-day leadership challenges of raising children. She is a contributing writer for The Granite Bay View, the Press Tribune, the Sacramento Examiner, and editor of Banana Moments.