With a few taps of the screen, a teen can go from doing homework to checking social media to streaming a video, giving the impression that they are completely at home in the digital world. Implementing screen time limits with teens is crucial, as their reliance on electronic devices is growing. However, too much time spent online puts them at risk of being victimized by cyberbullying or having their personal information stolen.
It can be challenging to monitor your adolescent’s online behavior and even more difficult to establish rules that will keep them safe and private. In what ways can you ensure that your adolescent’s screen time is balanced with other activities? What methods exist for establishing and maintaining limits? In this article, you’ll find some advice that you might find useful.
Adolescents and Acceptable Screen Time
You shouldn’t feel guilty about worrying about your teen’s screen time because many teenagers share your concerns. Common Sense Media surveyed teenagers and found that more than 90% of respondents agreed that too much time spent in front of screens is a problem among their generation. More than seven hours a day of the average teen’s online time is spent on entertainment. Girls in the survey reported spending more time on social media, while boys spent more time playing video games.
Teens’ love of digital media is nothing to be surprised about. Companies in the gaming and social media industries intentionally create appealing products for children. When a friend posts a photo to Facebook, you might be curious to know what your other friends think about it. Games encourage progression by rewarding players with new abilities or scoring points at each level. Teens are encouraged to use the program more and are made to feel isolated if they don’t participate.
Many parents worry that their children are becoming dependent on their phones or other electronic gadgets. Phone addiction does not exist scientifically because exposure to screens does not alter brain chemistry in isolation. But there’s evidence that playing video games for long periods of time can alter brain function and cause an addiction referred to as “internet gaming disorder.”
Teens may enjoy being in front of the screen, but too much time spent there can lead to unhealthy habits and prevent them from engaging in healthy pursuits like sports, spending time with friends and family, or even getting enough sleep.
As both teens and parents become more aware of the risks associated with excessive screen time, you will find more opportunities to work together to establish reasonable limits.
More than half of teenagers say their parents are preoccupied with their phones during in-person conversations. Just how would your adolescent describe you?
When is too much time in front of a screen?
There is no established guideline for how much time adolescents should spend in front of a screen. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) urges parents to impose uniform restrictions on their children’s time spent consuming media for academic, recreational, and social purposes across all platforms. A person’s screen time shouldn’t interfere with their ability to get enough rest, eat, study, work, play, or spend time with friends and family. Setting limits on how much time can be spent online may not be as effective as establishing screen-free zones and times for your teen.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has made available a free online media time calculator and family media plan tool to assist families in determining appropriate limits for their children’s screen time.
Limiting your teen’s exposure to electronic media is important.
Every single household is special in its own way. What’s most important is finding a balance between screen time and other activities. Here are four useful suggestions for parents.
Bring your teen into the process of establishing rules and limits.
If teenagers have a hand in establishing rules, they are more likely to follow them. Have your teen contribute to the screen time plan by establishing rules they feel are reasonable, such as a half-hour break from social media or gaming before starting homework.
Make a decision as a family about how much time will be spent watching TV or other media each day.
Family media plans can be tailored to each child’s age, stage of development, and interests. You could put a notice on the fridge or a bulletin board so everyone can see the plan. The plan for limiting screen time should be reviewed annually or more frequently if necessary. If you have a media plan in place before an issue arises, you won’t have to scramble to figure out a solution on the fly.
Create breaks from technology and limit your exposure to screens.
For instance, all screens should be put away during meals and family time, and at night, phones should be charged in a common area or the parents’ bedroom. Teens may benefit from not having access to screens in their bedrooms at night.
Consequences should be reasonable for breaking screen time limits.
An appropriate punishment could be taking away their computer or TV for a couple of days. Your teenagers might only sometimes stick to the family’s rules regarding screen time. If they don’t, try to understand why they didn’t and evaluate whether or not this is a recurring issue. Keep in mind that your adolescent uses their phone for more than just social media; it’s a way for them to stay in touch with you all day long. You should give some thought to all of this before deciding on any repercussions.
Being a Role Model
When it comes to raising children, nothing beats leading by example. Teens may give the impression that they don’t care about what you have to say or do, but they are actually watching your every move, including how you use technology and interact with others. The average adult spends up to 11 hours a day interacting with digital media for work, pleasure, and education. It takes work to tear yourself away from your electronic devices, especially if you have a full agenda. It’s important to limit your screen time, so try to enforce these guidelines as much as possible.
Teenagers, like adults, require more freedom both offline and online as they mature. As a parent, you can do your part to prepare your adolescent child for the challenges of adulthood by helping them establish healthy limits on screen time at a young age.
Talk to your pediatrician or a mental health professional if you are worried about your adolescent’s excessive online activity, cyberbullying, or involvement in risky behaviors. As an adult, it can be challenging to pry information out of a teenager about his life and feelings. Continue having discussions, asking questions, and looking for ways to reduce screen time.
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