5 Ways to Limit Screen Time for Teens
Electronic devices are an unavoidable part of everyday life, and a lot of working adults go from the screen they use at their job all day, to the one they unwind in front of in the evening, all while having another small device in-hand to use for scrolling websites and social media — many times doing that simultaneously while using the other screens!
For many people, the need to play on devices can become a bad habit that distracts us from being productive and takes us away from being present for those around us. If too much screen time can create these negative habits in adults, then it’s no stretch to say this is very bad for a teenager’s developing brain.
Studies have shown that too much screen time can cause many problems for teens, including sleep disorders, problems with focus, and obesity due to a sedentary lifestyle. While there is no hard rule about the ideal amount of screen time as it varies person to person, the general guideline is no more than two hours a day, outside of doing schoolwork.
However, devices are great in many ways — teens need them to do things like research projects for school, stay connected with friends and family, or practice certain hobbies. So how can parents limit screen time, while still making sure their child has access to the benefits of technology? Here are some tips for limiting screen time for teens.
Establish Rules & Treat Screen Time as a Privilege
It’s important to create clear rules for when, where, and why your teen can use their devices, and teach them that using devices for socializing or entertainment is a luxury, not a necessity. Help your children understand that their access is a privilege by only allowing screen time after agreed-upon goals are met. Make sure to live up to your end of the deal to foster a trusting relationship.
One Screen at a Time
Discourage multitasking and help create healthy habits by only allowing your child to have one screen available at a time. For instance, if they are using the laptop to do homework, their cell phone needs to be put away to reduce the temptation for distractions.
Block Websites During Certain Hours
One way to reduce a child’s interest in being on a device is to block the internet. If they don’t need to use the internet for research while during homework, disconnect the computer from WIFI, or use a program during that time period that blocks social media sites. There are also problems that essentially turn the computer into a word processor, virtually ensuring that your teen will get off it as soon as homework is complete! Check your app store for options.
Use the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro technique is a time management tool that breaks work into 25-minute segments, with a 5-minute break. After four Pomordoros, you can take a longer 15-30 minute break. During each focused work session, you must stay on task, and can only do other things during the breaks. Whether they are doing homework or chores, letting your teen have screen time during the longer breaks is a great way to ensure they get things done while not feeling deprived of their devices.
Don’t Let them Take Devices to Bed
The blue-light that emits from tablets and smartphones can disrupt the production of melatonin and disrupt sleep cycles. Have your teens end screen time at least one hour before bed, and instead wind-down by reading, playing a board game, or doing some yoga and light stretching. Set up a charging station in a central location where the whole family keeps their phones at night — not only will you set a good example, but this practice is good for adults for the same reasons!