Kids these days, especially teenagers are constantly on their electronic devices. Whether it's to check their social media accounts, text a friend, play video games, or watch a movie. It's no longer just T.V. that provides access to screen time; it's phones, tablets, computers, gaming devices, and even smartwatches.
Parents are probably wondering what kind of impact screen time has on their kids. Reports show that too much screen time plays a significant role in the rising cases of depression, anxiety, and suicide rates amongst teens. In one study, psychologist Jean Twenge discovered that teens who spend a significant time online are more likely to have a suicide related occurrence, such as depression or a suicide plan. In this study, almost half of the teens who reported spending five or more hours online reported that they have considered, planned, or attempted suicide at least once. These are very scary and alarming results.
Screen Time has Side Effects
Excessive screen time is associated with low self-control, distractibility, low curiosity, difficulty making friends, loss of sleep, and obesity. This means that your teen using their phone, tablet, or playing video games for long periods each day is causing long lasting impact on their brain development, creativity, physical health, and mental wellbeing.
Excessive screen time causes tension between families, it makes teens angry, moody, and difficult to talk to. Too much screen time impacts grades, friendships, and self-esteem. Everything is connected.
Allow Space for Dialogue
Speak with your teens, give them the facts, and let them know how much damage excessive screen time can have. There is no reason to forbid them from using their devices, but limit their usage and teach them how to use them properly and responsibly. Explain your concerns, don’t just give ultimatums.
Remember that everything in moderation is typically ok, so teach your kids to apply moderation to their screen time.
Have a Plan When Limiting Screen Time
When you take away your teen's devices, you will find that they no longer know what to do with their time. They will complain that they are bored, but it has been said that when boredom strikes, creativity takes over. Allow them to be bored for a little while until their brains figure out something to do.
You can also have some activities planned to help ease the transition away from screen time. These activities can be indoor or outdoor; be creative and find something that your teen will enjoy. Make sure to include your teen in this decision so they can have a say in the activity as well.
No Screens at Bedtime
If there is at least one time when you can limit screen time for your teen, it should be around bedtime. Having screen time two hours before bed makes it even more difficult to fall asleep and to get a decent amount of deep sleep. Some devices such as cell phones, TVs, and computers emit something called a blue light. This blue light messes up our sleep cycle, thus, it's best to avoid exposure to it before bed.
If your child has a lot of screen time, what behavior changes have you noticed with them? How many hours of screen time each day do your kids have a day? Let us know below.