What is appropriate screen time for a 15 year old? Do you ponder over this question often when you see your 15 year old teen with her cell phone throughout the day? Do you get upset on how she is prioritising her screen time over all her other routine activities? Well , let me tell you, you are not alone in this.

We live in the age where a majority of our everyday tasks have moved online on the account of simplification. And the teens are not lagging behind on this in any way. Infact they do have a list of 1000 other ways in which they use technology for their everyday living. Therefore, it is imperative for us parents to equip ourselves with right knowledge and skills to manage our teen’s love for technology and the perks that come along with it. 

So let us explore what is appropriate screen time for a 15 year old? While we discuss the answer to this, let us hold on to the fact that screens are quite enabling and empowering for your young teens in present times. And since they are indispensable to life, the parents should focus on enabling a friendly relationship between the teens and their screens.  

What is appropriate screen time for a 15 year old

Have a look at the following graphic. It breaks many myths and assumptions we have about ill effects of screens on our kids.

What is appropriate screen time for a 15 year old

The above data is sourced from UNICEF Discussion paper . It also mention that digital technology stimulates a child’s social relationships because most of his friends are now online. Further the study also reveals that internet use has negligible negative impact on the child’s brain or mental well-being. 

You may want to have a look at some other statistics on Screens and Teens here.

The Good & The Bad of Screens in Teens

We do know now that the teens are spending a significant amount of time on their screens. So, the next discussion agenda should be about the numerous ways it is affecting the teens. A lot has been said about screens and the negative impacts it has on the minds and lives of our kids.
 
From decreasing concentration spans to depression, from inability to handle face to face interactions to the dip in academic grades, a lot of these effects have been pinned on to the time teens spend on their screens
 
However, I would like to talk about the other side of this story. So let us discuss all the good things that technology & digital age bring on to the table. And if we were to count ways in which technology is simplifying our lives, a dozen posts would prove less. So, I would like to point out significant and often ignored positives of our teens being on screens. 
 
Here are some of the key benefits of embracing technology. And as a teen’s parent, you might want to consider these before you decide on the screen time restrictions.
Screens offer a whole new world of opportunities & careers to teens.

The digital medium can also encourage teens to explore & perfect their skills and talents online. This is extremely helpful in choosing relevant careers of their choice. Infact, technology has opened up a whole new array of careers like Data analytics, Gaming & E-commerce for your young teens.
 
Having access to screens, the teens get well-versed with the new age technological innovations. And hence are more likely to consider these new job areas for a career.
Technology is the future

There is no denying the fact that technology is shaping the future and it is the future. It is spreading its roots deep down under in every field. So getting accustomed to the technological advancements is the way to go into the future. 

Screens help in having latest & updated information about the world

Access to technology enables a quicker access to information about the world. And having this on the tip of their fingers, the teens are more equipped to make the right choices in their lives

Screens enable teens to gain in-depth information about their interests

The digital medium enables kids to access & gain holistic knowledge about different interests. Technology opens a whole new world out to kids. They are able to watch different events, & happenings from around the world. They are even able to explore different cities their culture their people on the click of a button.
 
Technology & Screens enhance the cognitive aspects of teen’s personality

Especially the critical thinking skills, reading & mathematical abilities have been seen to be positively influenced by technology. This is true for computer-assisted learning software pertaining to math which is typically a subject where teachers are unable to pay personalised attention to their students in large-sized classes.

Screens help communicate with peers & teachers

With mobile becoming the centre of all the communication these days, technology is now an imperative part of our day today lives. Embracing the technology makes your teen feel in control and help her fit in with his peers. Also, it helps parents and teens be in touch with the activities happening at school. Teachers too use mobile and technology to be in touch with teens and parents post school. So it is definitely bringing people closer and making information travel faster.

Screens are simplifying our lives and so does teens too

Various key skills required for everyday living have now been taken over by the online space. Be it navigating our way to a new place to booking our entire travel vacation, it is all done wit the help of technology today. Therefore, teens get equipped to manage these things on their own once they have the access to their screens.

Appropriate Screen Times for 15 year old Teens

While we discuss the answer to this question “What is appropriate screen time for teens”, we have to take into consideration the few key points:

Screen Time in Teens can be divided into 3 major themes: Digital Entertainment Time, Useful Digital time & Digital Connections Time. Also just to say that these are the terms that I just came up with purely for their self explanatory reasons.

The Digital Entertainment Time is time teens use on playing video games, watching TV & Netflix, listening to music etc. However, the Useful Digital Time can have much broader boundaries. It can involve studying, researching, reading books or spending time on other interactive & educational resources. And lastly, The Digital Connections Time is time  teen spend in communicating & relationships online. 

Now rather than worrying over how much screen times for your teens, I think a better measure is what are they spending this time on. But still this questions needs a specific answer. So here is my formula for calculating the appropriate screen time for your teens.

Starting with an hour of Digital Entertainment Time per day is an incredible beginning to setting the screen discipline for your teen. Beyond this, it is ok to accept the constantly online mode of your teen as far as the Digital Connections Time is concerned. And Useful Digital time should be decided on the basis of your teens needs. 

However, don’t be too fixed on these time lines. We all need our breaks from the fixed schedules and routines often. So get in the human element to discuss any deviations you find in your Teen Screen Times. And do so while you throw your ego, blames and sarcasms outside the window. 

The Best Advice on Appropriate Screen Time for a 15 year old 

Encourage teens to develop a healthy and friendly relationship with their screens. And not be addicted to their screens. 

The best advice I can offer you on the subject of screen time limits in teens is that have your focus on What your teen does on Screen rather than the Time she spends on Screens. 

Various new studies have established that technology, after all is not that bad for kids. And what is important is the quality of the content that kids access online rather than the time they spend playing games or watching videos online. So, parents need to fine-tune the kid’s digital engagement quality and time.

As far as the teens are not compromising on other important routines like the sleep hygiene, the play routine and the social meet ups with friends, it is ok for them to spend time on screens.

FAQs about “What is appropriate Screen Time for a 15 year old”

What should I do to enable a healthy relationship between my teen & her screen?

Model the healthy relationship with your screen. And keep a healthy balance between the time you spent on your screen and treat your wellbeing as a priority. Also communicating & connecting with your teen on this issue can help her understand your expectations better.

What if she gets addicted to her screen

Take the fear out of your mind. There is no established evidence to depict the ill effects of increased screen times in teens unless the screen times step on your teen’s healthy routine activities. So focus on quality of content she is consuming online rather than more time she is pending on her screen. 

Another good strategy is to add her screen time in her daily routine so she knows when she is allowed to be on screen and for how long.

Will she suffer on social skills if she spends more n more time on her screen?

Well, maintaining a healthy balance in her routine activities and screen time is what the parents have to encourage her to do. While you have your eyes on this balance, nothing can make her suffer on social skills or other relevant skills for life.

Spending too much time on screen, my teen would neglect her outdoor time. What should I do?

Again creating routine and knitting the screen times in her daily schedule can help her give decent time to all the activities. Ofcourse your teens screen time should not make her neglect other wellbeing activities during the day.

What can I do to protect them from ills of digital world like cyber bullying, trolls, and rude behaviours?

Awareness is her biggest strength to manage the ills of digital world. Empower her to manage herself online well. And talk of cyber frauds, bullying etc. often. Skill them to manage these effectively. 

How can I ensure that she does not get into watching inappropriate content?

Explore the arena of parental restrictions and set up a strict online security policy for your home. Also do check in between what your teen is doing online. 

Teach Your Teens about Online Security

We have established that screens are an indispensable part of a teen’s lives, the need of the hour is to coach them on things like online safety, cyberbullying, engaging in sexting, online predators etc 

Parents, of course have a bigger role to play in supervising content and other safety related aspects. Few Pointers to keep a check on are:

  • Sharing personal information is a strict no on SM. Also set privacy settings to high security.
  • Online medium is not ideal for befriending strangers and also not sharing personal pictures, videos & other media.
  • It is best not to respond to people or messages that appear threatening, appears unsafe or uncomfortable. 
  • Coach your teen on the rights & wrongs of the internet. Also teach them digital etiquette & compassion.
  • Teach your teen aspects of financial security like protecting credit card details and banking details online. 
  • Also keep a watch for dangerous signs like if the child is spending too much time online, especially at night; or is receiving gifts or unsolicited phone calls; or switches off the smart device as soon as you enter the room.

Online frauds and data hackers are also few things that you should speak to your teen about. Teach her to keep her information and media safe online. Although, this is not easy but, all the time and effort you spend on this will all seem worth the pain once you know that by doing these, your teen is safe online.

I hope this write up proves helpful in in breaking many myths in your minds about screens being the ultimate demons in our teens’ lives. And I also hope you can now answer this question gf what is appropriate screen time for teens confidently for your teen. 

 Happy Surfing & Happy Parenting!

Hi, I am Kushal Singhal – Parent of two lovely kids and the Founder of Cafe Whiz.