What is appropriate screen time for a 16 year old? And how can parents help in limiting the overall Screen Time for their 16-year-old? These questions find the valid place in the minds of most of the parents in present times. 

With technology finding its on ground and spreading its roots in different aspects of our lives, it is but natural for all of your parents to worry about the effects that come along with the conveniences of it all. 

Since our whole lives have been influenced and eased with the introduction of technology, keeping our teens are away from their mobiles and iPads is not a practical solution at all. So what are the options available for parents to manage the screens in their teens lives in present times?

What is appropriate screen time for a 16 year old

It is relevant to start a discussion on screen time in teens by understanding what do teens actually do on their screens. Having a look at this graphic, provides a lot of clarity to all the parents about how their teens are spending now just entertainment time, but also their useful time and their social connections time online.

Right from Netflix to Spotify from Snapchat to kik and from kindle to Google maps, it is all done online. And not just teenagers but more and more adults are also spending their time online in the name of efficiency & multitasking.

So then is it reasonable on our part to expect our teens to be away from their mobiles while the whole world including their peers are exploring newer domains and experiences online?

What is appropriate screen time for a 16 year old

Appropriate Screen Time for a 16 year old teen

While we discuss the answer to this question “What is appropriate screen time for a 16 year old”, I want to submit here that this post would prove to be helpful in deciding the apt screen time for 13,14 & 15 year old teens all the way upto young adults. You could also read other posts in this series about screen times here. These posts are quite similar in context and content for obvious reasons however you would find  data and infographics specific to the age of your teen. So it is definitely worth having a look at the specific post on appropriate screen time for your teen as per his/her age group.

Down below is a list of key points to consider for deciding what is good enough time for your teen to spend on her screens.

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. 

Benefits of Screen Time in Teens

We do know that the teens are spending a significant amount of time on their screens. The next discussion agenda should be about how this 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. 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 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.
For example, kids are able to watch animals under water or see a country from the other side of the world. They can take virtual tours to the Seven Wonders of the World.

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.

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.

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. It also 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.

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. 

FAQs about Excessive Screen Time for Teens

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

Model the healthy relationship with your screen. 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. 

Will my teen get obese with excessive screen time?

Like the excess of anything is bad so it is true for screen time in teens. Although technology has its own benefits, a balance is all what is needed to negate the side effects of being on the screen. 

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 teen’s 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.

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. These are prevailing big time in our world these days and talking about these often helps in making them proactively alert.

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.

Also use of Parental controls for filtering the right content for your teens is a great addition to this list.

How I Manage Screen Times for my Teen:

I have a 13 year old teen at home and yes, I am ok if my teen wants to spend some more time in front of her screen. All i worry about is that she does not over do it and what kind of content she is consuming. While with my personal experience on the subject, I can easily say both my kids are well versed with technology. There have developed such good skills in finding out relevant, exciting and quality content.

Had I been a parent who would have reacted and yelled at my kids for being on screens longer than they should be, I bet I would not be doing justice to their overall development. The intellectual stimulus that the internet and quality content can provide kids is unmatchable. There are specialists on internet who are sharing their expertise. And what better way to have your kids experience first hand knowledge. 

So, we usually end up listening to interesting stories, answering creative riddles and listening to such useful and life enriching hacks from my 13 year old while the 6 year old chap always tells me about the new 1 minute game that he can set up for all of us to play and engage. So to answer the question “What is appropriate screen time for a 16 year old” I would say, screens are not bad but like everything let us just set the boundaries and keep an eye on kids’ safety. Balance is the key here.

Happy Surfing & Happy Parenting!

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