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What do your 16 & 17 years olds do when they are home?

(33 Posts)
cardy1969 Tue 05-Dec-17 22:55:25

I'm finding it increasingly frustrating that whenever my dds (14 & 16) are home they just spend their time lying on their beds looking at their phone. How do your teens spend their free time?

To be fair to them they get on with homework when they need to and work hard but at other times they don't seem to actually do anything. I'm not sure what I want them to do, perhaps cook or bake, read or make something, even watch the news or read a newspaper. I understand that they need down time as they both work hard at school and dd1 has a Saturday job but I just want them to do something.

I try to encourage them to watch something on TV with us when we are all home, which is nice and we try to all eat together and chat over dinner. Should I just let them them while away their free time however they wish (on social media or what YouTube videos)?

They both do a couple of after school/colleges activities too. Am I expecting too much?

BackforGood Tue 05-Dec-17 23:43:42

Well, 16 yr old is up to her eyeballs in revision at the moment as is doing mocks, but generally, if not exam season, then when any of my teens are home, yes, they are spending time looking at screens.
ds tends to be playing FIFA with mates (via internet - headphones on) - which I think it quite sociable really, interacting with his mates even when he's home. dd2 is always in several group chats at once. dd1 watches a bit more tele, but only ever streaming stuff on her lap top - she doesn't sit with me inthe living room.
It is just a pretty normal part of being a teen in this day and age, IMO.
We do all eat together (well, those who are in), round the table, as we always have done. All 3 of them are very active and involved in stuff the attend regularly (hobbies, volunteering, sport, seeing friends) so I have no issue with downtime being spent interacting with other friends via technology rather than sitting with their parents, when there is so much choice of what they can do now, so are no longer tied to Saturday evening tele with parents, as we were when youngsters.

Katedotness1963 Wed 06-Dec-17 00:19:31

They spend an hour in the livingroom when they get home from school. We have a cup of tea, snack, chat and watch Judge Rinder. Then they go to their rooms till mealtime, we eat together and they go back to their rooms, with the occasional wander into the livingroom, till bedtime.

clary Wed 06-Dec-17 00:25:19

Dunno but I could have written your OP (sigh).

I do get that it's a different world, but I wouldn't mind occasionally, y'know, having a conversation with one of them.

Gaudeamus Wed 06-Dec-17 05:59:59

I don't have teens so my ideas might be pie in the sky, but it seems to me you could approach this in three ways:

1. Do things with them. DVD and hot-chocolate, board game, walk to the park, learn a skill off YouTube together, do a MOOC, bake, do DIY, ask their opinion on family decisions like holidays or redecorating.

2. Ask them to do something useful. Cook dinner, do the laundry, mow the lawn, run errands.

3. Facilitate things they would like to do anyway. Tell them they can invite their friends, buy them some home workout equipment or art supplies, test them on their driving theory knowledge, subscribe them to a magazine to do with their hobby, buy them a decent camera and editing software.

lljkk Wed 06-Dec-17 06:07:06

Wander about with duvet wrap around.
Cuddle with cats.
Ferret in kitchen cupboards.
Squabble with siblings.
Moan about lack of clean house.
DD occasionally cleans house, as in bathroom or another communal space, if she has a friend coming around.

Thingywhatsit Wed 06-Dec-17 08:02:26

Ds 15 spends most of his free time sleeping!

He does do activities most nights which keeps him from getting involved in all the Facebook chats etc but he still spends far too much time on his phone.......

Ragwort Wed 06-Dec-17 08:08:19

Gaud - I used to think exactly the same as you before my DS became a teenager grin - great intentions but the reality is so different !

My teenager spends a lot of his time on 'screens' - until I physically remove them from him, he spends the barest minimum doing homework, despite a poor report from the first term at A levels.
He does do sports training one evening a week and goes to a church youth club so I suppose that is a good thing. He has a weekend job and plays in a match most weekends (& goes to Church - on his own, a different one to the one I go to).
We tend to play cards or a board game on a Sunday evening.
The idea of enjoying the same tv programme or film fills me with horror though grin.
I suppose writing all that down he is not really a bad lad, just the endless screen time seems such a waste of time. But perhaps it's the equivalent of my teenage years reading 'Jackie' and listening to Radio Luxembourg. shows age.

Ontopofthesunset Wed 06-Dec-17 08:09:10

In order of time spent on each activity:
i) lie around on bed on phone, lounge in my bed on phone (shortage of chargers!), sit in kitchen or living room on phone
ii) listen to music loudly via Spotify in various rooms or in bedroom on record player
iii) play electric guitar very loudly
iv) improvise favourite songs on piano very loudly
v) watch Stranger Things
vi) do homework
vii) talk to us at dinner
viii) watch episode of current family TV series with us before bed (not every night as often it's too late)
ix) practise what he's supposed to for G8 piano

AnnabelleLecter Wed 06-Dec-17 08:16:03

Mine spends hours in her room when she's not out socialising or at work.
Sleeps a lot, plays the same five songs, does make-up, hair, college work, phone glued to her the whole time.
Sometimes she watches a film or TV programme or has tea with us. She does a couple of chores, makes a fuss of the dogs.
We do go out a lot: spa, gym, swimming, cinema, meal, show, shopping etc about twice a week.

poisonedbypen Wed 06-Dec-17 08:23:15

Yup, mine has a hobby that takes up quite a lot of time. Other than that he is mostly in his room. I hate it & it rather took me by surprise. We have 3 DCs (2 at uni) & it was quite a sudden transition to them all spending so much time in their rooms. Two of them had Netflix without me even knowing. Could explain DS1's A levels results angry

JaneWonder Wed 06-Dec-17 08:52:33

I’m the cruellest mum in the world as the whole family have to put devices in a box from 8.30pm. Works a great in terms of getting them to do other things.

Mine spends a lot of time playing with her Puppy, doing homework at the kitchen table, watching tv with me, playing cards and listening to music with me or her sister. She also spends time in her room but much less than she would with internet access.

wednesdayswench Wed 06-Dec-17 09:13:01

My 16YO & 14yo come home from School starving and pretty exhausted, they usually eat everything in sight and when satisfied they do 'veg' on the sofa or in their rooms on their phones (usually watching YouTube, on group chats or playing mindless games)
For a couple of hours. We eat together and watch a bit of tv together and they do also spend a lot of time on their homework, both are very hardworking.

I do understand and have no problem with a couple of hours of mindless phone time, the way I see it is their environment at School is hectic, chaotic & loud. The pressure put on them is huge, so they really do need to unwind and escape from reality for a bit to recharge their batteries, it's in their nature to be a bit reclusive and unsociable at home. I want them to be happy and feel relaxed at home, so I don't enter into any power struggles about how they choose to relax.

If their schoolwork was suffering because of constant phone time, I'd need to step in, but fortunately that isn't the case.

cardy1969 Wed 06-Dec-17 09:54:39

Well that's all very reassuring, I guess my 2 dds are fairly typical then.

I've tried to look at it positively since reading these replies. So thank you! From a positive point of view, they:
Work hard at school/college
Do lots of homework
Have dinner as a family
Do activities/have a hobby (sport, dancing)
Have good social lives
Agree to watch a Netflix series as a family (currently Stranger Things)
Go out with DH and I (shopping, walks, gym, visit friends, day trips etc)
Contribute to family discussions (eg holiday plans, Christmas plans)

I think I'll try to be positive and not focus on the fact that when they are 'doing nothing' they are staring at a phone/iPad/laptop.

My one aim is to teach them a few more life skills, like cooking, diy etc. any suggestions on how to encourage enthusiasm smile

NumberEightyOne Wed 06-Dec-17 10:01:49

In our house, between revising, sleeping (growth spurt), eating, sport and watching TV, there seems to be little time or energy for much else. It all seems pretty normal.

JufusMum Wed 06-Dec-17 11:33:03

DD is almost 16, when not revising or at dance class;

contorting body in lounge
watching dance videos on you tube and trying out new moves
procrastinating on the internet
laying on bed looking like she's dead
fawning over pictures of Johnny Depp
fawning over pictures of puppies
asking me for a puppy repeatedly
constantly eating out of fridge/cupboards
laying in bath for extended periods watching youtube on old ipad (the only one I will allow in the bathroom)
occasionally joining us to watch Eastenders
playing with her hamsters

ofmenandmice Wed 06-Dec-17 13:03:19

Mine are older now but I have two at home from uni at the moment.
They have always worked hard and got good grades, done part time jobs and will do chores, cook or do whatever asked.

When not studying they are both in their caves, one is glued to YouTube or NetFlix and the other gaming and chatting online.

I have always managed to find something that we can watch together, box sets such as Suits, Greys Anatomy, Breaking Bad.
They eat with us if they are home and always have. In depth conversations happen at the table or in the car (you lose this once they drive).

TabbyTigger Wed 06-Dec-17 15:46:20

Mine are either side (18 and just left home, then 13, and 12) and are all crazy busy 90% of the time but we do watch television together quite a lot - the girls (13&12) love Gilmore Girls, Suits, Friends, and most recently Stranger Things and Blue Planet II, which are all programmes we watch together. Interestingly Strictly has somehow held the family together - I have two younger DDs (nearly 2&5) and somehow all four happily watch(/dance along, especially for the smalls) together every Saturday.

I also make them (12&13yo) cook for the whole family once a week (just something simple - pasta, sauce and garlic bread or stir fry). They’re also both quite into reading/drawing and play instruments, and go on the trampoline quite a lot but I’m predicting those might fade in the next few years, judging from teens we know! They are also already more than happy to lie on their beds on their phones. I think it’s just a 21st century teen thing.

TabbyTigger Wed 06-Dec-17 15:48:56

At age 16 I’m fairly sure DS18 was exactly as you describe your 2. I used to get him downstairs with films and food and that was about it. Nothing else was worth the long trek grin

cardy1969 Wed 06-Dec-17 16:42:58

Mine sound completely normal then. I'll try to stop getting frustrated when they are lying on their beds watching YouTubers talk nonsense!

Think I need to get them cooking more though especially dd1 who could be at uni in less than 2 years. Any tips?

At least they go to dancing and do sport. They are very good at doing stuff as a family (went to see Wonder at the cinema on Saturday and are going ice skating this weekend). Some of dd1 friends always seem to be home alone or at a friends) so we're lucky in that sense. OK I've convinced myself I need to chill out and let them chill out.

Stranger Things almost finished so I need to find another series that we can all watch. Any ideas? x

Ontopofthesunset Wed 06-Dec-17 18:01:12

We are watching Lucifer but also have watched Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Line of Duty.

BackforGood Wed 06-Dec-17 19:11:28

Mine have all been on a rota for cooking the evening meal once a week wince they were 14, 12 and 9. (The 9 yr old obvs got more help).
All their university flat / housemates have been in awe of their skills. They, in turn can't believe how incapable some of their flatmates are grin.

TabbyTigger Wed 06-Dec-17 20:20:41

Just give each DD one night a week to cook and get out all the ingredients. If you eat meat - spaghetti bolognese might be a good starting point, and then lasagna or meatballs or shepherd’s pie. Mine make things like vsauce with pasta, stir fry, peri-peri bean grill. We have a “15 minute recipes” book that they usually choose something out of and then I give them money to buy the ingredients on the way home from school on the days they do it.

Not sure about other series to watch as mine are a bit younger. I think one of my friends watches How To Get Away With Murder with her 15yo, and I know they’re working through Game of Thrones.

ofmenandmice Thu 07-Dec-17 09:18:18

I didn't teach mine to cook until the summer before uni. It's not that hard if you can cook yourself to teach the basics. DS1 is now an enthusiastic and adventurous cook who is happy to experiment or cater for a large group. DS2 not so keen but is competent.
Start with peeling and chopping duty. This is painful to watch if they've never diced an onion grin
Then pick one of their favourite meals and teach them to make it from scratch. I found that my method of estimating and guess work based on 100 years of practise was not ideal. I had to work out proper times and quantities for recipes. Teaching them how to shop for food is also useful for cooking on a budget - how to look at £per kilo and use by dates. Eventually they went off to uni with half a dozen cheap, tried and tested recipes.
Now when they are home they will offer help and cook now and then. I don't work so don't particularly need the help, it's more for their benefit.

Ragwort Thu 07-Dec-17 18:57:21

My DS managed to pass his Cookery GCSE this summer (or whatever it is called these days) but seemingly can't put a simple meal together at home confused.

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