Helping Your Teen Scale Back Media Time

Helping Your Teen Scale Back Media Time

According to the Kaiser Health Foundation, 5 years ago, teens spent roughly 6 ½ hours per day with some form of media and about 8 1/2 hours multitasking between platforms (tablets, smartphones, laptops). Current data suggests this has increased to teens packing about 10 ½ hours of media content into about 7 ½ hours of media exposure per day.

We know that increased time using media contributes to a lower sense of personal contentment, lower academic grades, a higher incidence of reporting emotions such as sadness or loneliness.

While current research doesn’t directly link increased screen time to these effects, research does demonstrate that families where parents impose limits around media have children who report spending less time with media than their peers–in other words, parental limits over media does reduce media consumption in teens!

Tips for parents to limit media use/screen time at home:

  • Model healthy habits of your own with your phone/laptop/tablet computer at home. Teens model what they see and will be more willing to accept screen time limits at home if parents abide by them too.
  • Set realistic limits–taking away all access to phones or computers isn’t easily enforceable or realistic in our digital age. Teens need access to the Internet for school projects and assignments and teens maintain social relationships through their phones. Find realistic limits for your family. Some examples may include:
    • No phones at the dinner table.
    • No laptops/tablets/phones in bedrooms after a certain time.
    • No phones during designated ‘family time,’ such as family movie night, attending religious services, etc.
    • Each child is allowed a specific amount of time per day on their phone/device as appropriate for their age.
  • Get active and get outside! Families who are actively exploring their environment and having positive experiences outside, instead of reading about all the experiences their friends are having online, are more connected and in-tune with other family members. Building positive family memories happen in-the-moment ,and we miss these moments if we’re busy reading about everything happening online.

Sarah (Brookings) Connor, LPC
sconnor @

Photo Credit: Public Domain

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