For many parents, this had already become a tug-of-war. Your teen already seemed to have their phone surgically attached to their hand. Then along came the pandemic and its piecemeal mitigation tactics. Kids were suddenly managing an entirely new set of norms. That device now serves as a lifeline to the outside world.
Despite this current reality, the disturbing issue of teens and screen time cannot be ignored. How does a responsible parent help their teenage children find the healthiest possible balance? Undoubtedly, it will remain a tug-of-war. However, even during the age of COVID-19, you can guide your teen away from too much screen time.
The Screen Time Epidemic
According to a 2019 study, teenagers in the U.S. spend an astonishing average of NINE HOURS a day staring at screens. For the record, this does not include schoolwork or homework. Generally speaking, this means your teen may spend more time engaging with digital technology than:
- family time
- traditional schooling
By definition, nine hours a day of screen time means there’s an awful lot of unproductive “multi-tasking” going on. Again, these numbers reflect the reality in 2019. Needless to say, a few things have changed since then.
Your teens are using the same single device to complete schoolwork, connect with friends, and seek out entertainment. Today’s increase in digital time has been shown to cause a wide array of problems for kids and teens, e.g.
- educational and behavioral problems
- postural/muscular issues
- sleep disturbances
- sedentary body issues, obesity
- exposure to disturbing, violent, and/or pornographic online content
As the parent of a teen in the midst of a global pandemic, it is essential that you get involved. You can work together with your child to find a healthy, flexible compromise.
5 Ways to Reduce Your Teen’s Screen Time
1. Ease Into the Concept With Some Meal-Time Rules
Create one hard and fast as a method of introducing boundaries. You can demand that the family enjoy one screen-free meal together each and every day. No exceptions (and that includes the parents).
2. Create a Pre-Bedtime Ritual
As mentioned above, too much device time can lead to sleep issues. You will be helping your teen and yourself immensely by setting a time at which all devices are powered down.
3. Reminder: Not All Screen Time is Created Equal
Even the adults can recognize that there is a huge difference between mindlessly scrolling and catching up with an old friend via video chat. It’s not fair or productive to lump all screen time together.
4. Be Open to Hearing Input From Your Teen
You’re in charge but your teen is a budding adult. Involve them in the boundary-setting process. Let them know you’re open to possible future changes based on their input.
5. Find Ways to Share Some Screen Time Together
Watch a movie together. Play a video game. Research a fun topic. Video chat with family members. As “uncool” as your teen may deem you to be, there are options to turns screen time into bonding time.
You Do Not Have to Go It Alone
No one may be at their absolute best right now. Our lives have been turned upside down. The outside world can feel threatening. So, if the topic of screen time is turning into a household war, cut yourself and your teen some slack.
Ask for help. Counseling can assist with this negotiation. You can try therapy on your own or schedule sessions with your teen as well. Keep in mind that the option to attend counseling via video chat is an ideal way to illustrate the importance of quality screen time.
Parenting a teen is challenging. Living through a pandemic is challenging. You do not have to go it alone. Please read more about teen counseling and schedule a consultation soon.
Getting Started With Teen Counseling in Lakewood & Longmont Colorado
We invite you to call us at 720-551-4553 for a free 20-minute phone consultation. You can schedule your appointment via phone, email, or the contact page on our website. We offer both in-person and online counseling. We’re open to whichever option you feel more comfortable with. We look forward to hearing from you!