Screen time for both teens and adults is taking a lot of time away from activities we used to enjoy.
The most disturbing results of too much screen time are decreased time with family and friends, the risk of obesity and a negative effect on mental health.
Consider this dad’s story about his teenage son:
“We gathered with extended family to celebrate our daughter’s birthday. Suddenly, my dad asked, where’s Jack? At 6’ 2” our son was difficult to miss. I found him upstairs playing games on his iPad. My parents had traveled several hours from Eugene and I saw the look of disappointment on their faces when Jack returned to the kitchen and sat in silence. It appeared he would rather get lost in a video game than celebrate with family.”
In our society today, excessive use of devices with screens is the norm instead of the exception.
We all want the teens in our lives to practice healthy habits now and experience good mental, social and physical health.
It’s important for parents to know how often their teen uses screen devices.
You are likely well aware that your teen is spending too much time on their screen. But still consider the following questions to evaluate what is too much time focused on screens for your teen:
- Does texting continue after your teen goes to bed?
- Are your teen’s grades slipping?
- Has participation in real life activities decreased?
- Does your teen seem anxious or irritable, or have trouble sleeping?
- Does he or she complain of muscle pain or tired or dry eyes?
Screen time should be a privilege, not a right.
You can guide your teen’s screen use and help him or her to see how technology can enhance life, not complicate it.
Establishing a plan with clear guidelines will allow your teen to participate in something they enjoy but not at the expense of their mental, social and physical health.
Consider these 5 tips to create a plan to manage your teen’s screen time:
- Create a technology agreement together that discusses the amount of time and when it is okay to use screen devices.
Do homework and household chores first.
Turn off or mute phones 30 minutes before bedtime.
- Schedule screen free family time and screen free zones in your life.
Consider no phone time in the car to allow room for a great conversation with your teen.
Participate in an activity your family enjoys.
Charge the phone in the kitchen during the night.
- Discourage multi-tasking.
Put the phone away while doing homework to be more productive.
Encourage the whole family to set aside phones during a family movie or show.
- Put screen devices away and turn off the television at dinner time.
Provide an opportunity for conversation and reconnecting with your teen.
- Set an Example for your Teen
Put your phone away when helping with homework or spending time with family.
Take steps now to encourage your teen to prioritize sleep, school, relationships and physical activity.
It is completely possible for you to help your teen learn healthy habits now that will benefit him or her later in life. Learning new habits takes time and you may not see change overnight. It will take consistency to encourage new behavior.
At Integrity Counseling in Vancouver, WA, we offer family therapy to help parents become better at setting guidelines with their teens.
Our family therapists help parents learn the tools to promote positive behavior.
You will find more cooperation and less frustration as you communicate the importance of prioritizing screen time and activities which will result in a more satisfying relationship with your teen.
If you are considering family counseling in Vancouver, WA,
Or, call 360-356-8756, extension 1 to schedule a teen counseling session today!