Without parental guidance, most teenagers would enjoy spending the majority of their time behind a screen. Whether they're texting, scrolling Instagram or watching YouTube videos on their laptops, their electronics use can easily get out of control. However, research has found that excessive screen time can raise the risk of obesity, interferes with social activities and family time, and can even take a toll on a teen's mental health. Here’s some strategies you can use to manage your teen's screen time and how it can benefit your whole family.
Remove Screens from Your Teens Bedroom
Having a TV or computer in the bedroom is a huge distraction for your teen, especially when they’re meant to be studying or falling asleep. It might even be a good idea to get your teenager to leave their phone in the kitchen at night so they can’t be distracted by it. Having access to technology at night has even been linked to teens getting lower exam scores, so removing TV’s and any other electronic devices from their bedroom is a priority!
Make Screen Time a Privilege
One of the ways in which screen time has changed dramatically recently is that it feels more like a right than a privilege. Even though it may be difficult, make it clear to your teenager that screen time is a privilege that needs to be earned. Also, make them aware that screen time can be taken away at any time. Teach your teen to do homework and chores first, before they turn on the TV or play on the computer. Learning this delayed gratification with technology will not only be beneficial now but teach them great lessons for later on in life.
Set Time Limits
Whether it's letting your teen watch an hour of TV after their homework is complete or no more than 30 minutes texting with friends, it’s crucial that you establish clear rules and limits for screen time. Even though it may be tempting to give in when your teen gets upset or annoyed by these rules, it’s crucial to be consistent and firm.
Be a Good Role Model
Parents should lead by example and limit their time spent in front of the TV, on the computer or using a smartphone or tablet. Teens are very tuned in to their parents’ habits, and will imitate what they see or say things like: “Why can’t I go on my phone all the time if you are?”
Educate Your Teen About Screen Time
Having frequent conversations about various aspects of social media, technology and excessive screen time is super important. Discuss things like how advertisements often try to convince young people that certain products will make them more attractive or more popular, or how some people aren’t always who they say they are on social platforms. You can even explain how violent video games, movies, and images can be harmful to teens. Having this knowledge will be invaluable to them.
No Screens During Mealtimes
Turn off your TV during dinnertime and don’t allow phones out while you’re all eating as a family. Instead, use the opportunity to talk about everyone’s day and connect as a family. We guarantee this small rule will make dinner time so much more enjoyable, rather than everybody sitting in silence watching a screen.
Plan Family Activities Without Electronics
Set aside time for activities where the entire family agrees be unplugged from technological devices. Whether you play a board game or go for a family hike, make it clear that during your time together there won’t be any electronic use. You could even agree to have a screen-free Saturday once a month, where the whole family takes part and spends quality time together instead.
Family Activities Without Screens
- Long walks outside
- Visiting a museum/aquarium/zoo
- Reading and relaxing
- Game nights
- Getting outside in the garden
- Swimming/sporting activities or games
- Having a day at the beach