Protecting Your Teen Online: How to Manage Healthy Screen Time
When children spend too much time in front of screens, they can develop problems at home and school. Too much screen time can get in the way of family time, socializing, homework, chores, and even sleeping enough. Teens who have too much screen time can also develop unhealthy eating habits, attention disorders, and social problems. Overall, spending too much time in front of screens can be damaging for children.
As your child becomes a teenager, it can be tough to pry them away from their screens. Over the past decade, screen time has become increasingly important for teens, tweens, and even little kids. “Screen time” for kids can be pretty much anything done on a computer, tablet, smartphone, or TV. So it includes things like watching shows or movies, playing video games, doing school work, and interacting with others on social media.
If it requires a screen, it counts as screen time. According to an article from PBS, kids ages 8-12 spend an average of 4 hours and 44 minutes each day in front of a screen solely for entertainment purposes. For teenagers, that number jumps up to 7 hours and 22 minutes daily. Again, this is just for entertainment, not for schoolwork and homework.
If you are worried that your teen son is developing an unhealthy relationship with screens, he might benefit from attending a therapeutic boarding school. Some teens become so reliant on technology that they don’t know how to function without it. Before reaching adulthood, teens must learn how to socialize and interact with other people in real life, not behind a screen. If your teen struggles with social interaction or seems addicted to technology, contact us to find out how we can help.
Managing healthy screen time
Even adults today can find themselves wasting too much time on Instagram or staying up later than planned because they’re binge-watching a new series on Netflix. Social media sites and online streaming services aren’t necessarily bad, but we have to learn to set up healthy boundaries with screens.
Though you don’t want your teen to spend too much time in front of screens, they’re still going to have some screen time. Your teen needs to learn how to manage healthy screen time as they grow up.
Here are a few ways you can help your teen develop healthy screen time boundaries.
Create some rules for your household regarding screen time. These could include rules like, “no phones at the dinner table,” or “no phones in your room after bedtime.”
Your teen will likely fight you on it at first, but they will get used to it. Explain your reasoning for the rules, and hold all of your kids accountable to them. If possible, also follow the rules yourself.
Role model healthy screen time
Kids follow what we do, not what we say. If you’re telling them that too much screen time is bad for them, but you spend all of your free time in front of a screen, they won’t believe you. Let them see you behaving the way you’re telling them to behave.
Filter what they consume
There are a lot of things online that are inappropriate for kids to watch. Pay attention to the sites that your child is viewing to make sure it’s all on the up-and-up. You can also install parental controls on your devices at home and on your child’s mobile devices to filter what they watch.
Encourage real-life activities
If your kid is bored, they’re more likely to spend time in front of a screen. Encourage your teen to participate in real-life activities so that they won’t be so bored.
When teens make friends and participate in positive activities together, they improve their social skills. Doing physical activities like sports or other athletics can also help your teen stay physically healthy.
Talk about screen time
A lot of teens don’t realize how much time they spend in front of a screen. It’s easy to pick up a smartphone and start scrolling or start playing a game and lose track of time.
Talk to your teen about the danger of too much screen time and the importance of managing healthy screen time, and show them the screen time tracker on their phone. If they are on board developing healthy habits, they are more likely to go along with your household plans.
Breaking an unhealthy screen time habit
Some teens go too far with their screen time and start to rely on it for comfort. Just like little kids need to have their teddy bear to feel secure, some teens need to have their cell phone with them to feel secure. Teens who develop an internet addiction or rely on screens for security can benefit from a change of scenery and activities.
At Sundance Canyon Academy, we teach our students how to manage their lives without having screens present at all times. They participate in life skills training sessions along with numerous extracurricular activities. By finding joy in real-life activities, teens learn to accept life without the filter of a screen.
Contact us at 866-224-2733 for more information.