What is appropriate screen time for an 18 year old teen and how can you make your teen accountable to stick to it? A million dollar question that needs an answer which should sound persuading to both the parents and their teens. We will be talking all about teens and the relationship they share with their screens in this post. 

Technology is indispensable for kids & adults alike. A large part of our lives is now dependent on our mobiles and laptops. However, with all the advantages of efficiency that the technology brings on to the table, a lot of ills come along as a package too. We are talking about issues like cyber bullying, online security breaches, online frauds etc.

What is the role of parents in all of this technology excess & mess that has been created? Let us explore together.

What is appropriate screen time for a 18 year old

Before we step on to this question, let us have a look at some statistics regarding Cyber bullying in Teens. It is much more common than you and I think it is. Almost 37% of US Teens in high school have admitted to being cyber bullied once or more.

What is appropriate screen time for a 18 year old

The above statistics have been sourced from CyberBullying and shows a scary picture of our teens lives. You may want to read about How to save your teen daughter from Screen Addiction here

Key Strategies to Negotiate Screen time Rules with your Teen

Understand how are teens spending their digital time

Teens usually spend their digital time on three main themes. The first is the digital time spent on general entertainment like playing video games, watching movies or shows on Netflix, listening to music, reading books online or shopping online etc. I like to call this as the Digital Entertainment Time. 

Second & the most important theme is what I like to call Digital Useful Time. This is a significant chunk of time that 18-year-old would be spending  on researching and finding information about her school projects or group activities. This time is usually what parents worry the least about because their teen according to them is spending this time on useful activities. 

The last category of screen time is the time that the teen spends on being in touch with her friends or connect and make new friends. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Kik and other texting & dating apps all fall under this category. And I like to call this one as the Digital Connections Time.

So after taking into consideration, different ways your teen spends her time online, you have to negotiate the appropriate screen time for her.

Be Reasonable while deciding the screen hours for her

We all need to unwind the way we like. And Digital Entertainment Time is the choice for majority of teens and adults. Respect that choice of your almost adult teen and allow the Digital Entertainment Time in her daily schedule. Don’t generalise & judge her being on phone all the time. Rather understand what is she doing on her mobile. 

She needs time with her friends who are Online

Make sure that she gets enough time to unwind after her Digital Useful time. And parents should also ensure that she gets enough time to be there for her friends in Digital Connections time. Face to face social interactions are now being over taken by the online Social Media.

Since all her friends and peers are online experimenting with the new App, it is reasonable for you to allow her to explore online universe with in the pre set bounds. Also, the need to belong to the group of friends is very strong in teenage and hence we as parents should be mindful about this.

Understand her needs

Another important point to keep in mind is to be available to engage with your teen when she wants to spend time with you playing or just chatting with you. Also, a lot of times, our non availability & busy schedules push our teens to their screens too. Keeping her challenged and engaged at this age is a huge challenge that often needs a creative outlook & out of the box thinking.

Let her Free time be the screen time

When she is finished with her daily chores list, school commitments and her health routines, allow her free time to be the screen time. Also once you have communicated the rules for online safety and decided upon the appropriate time limits with her, getting everyday into an extra 10 mins or 30 mins is hardly going to yield any positive results. So my suggestion is to work on your attitude towards the technology time and not be extra sensitive to it all.

Appropriate Screen Time for an 18 year old teen

So here is my recommendation for computing the appropriate screen time for your 18 year old teen.

Beginning with one-two hours of Digital time for Entertainment every day is a good enough start to setting the screen discipline for your high schooler. Past this, it is alright to acknowledge and accept your teen’s need to be available online for her friends. So being online always at the tap of the screen is a trend that everyone is accustomed to. Be it teens, or adults we all are bitten by “Almost Always Online Bug”. So be a little empathetic towards your teen and respect her strong need to fit in into her group of friends. 

The Digital Useful time that is spent on school projects or researching about her other passions is something that every parent needs to take an independent call upon. And this gets easier if you have a strong relationship with your teen in a couple of ways. Firstly you are aware what is happening in your teens life in and out. And secondly you share a respectful relationship that makes it easier for her to listen & collaboratively negotiate the appropriate screen time for her. In any case, don’t be excessively fixed on these timelines and be willing to listen and communicate. 

FAQs about Appropriate Screen Time for Teens

Find below the FAQs for Parents to help them decide the good screen time for their teens. This is the set of questions that are commonly asked by parents of teens of all age groups.

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.

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. Of course your teens screen time should not make her neglect other wellbeing activities during the day.

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 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.

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 your teen to manage these effectively. And always be an available listening ear for her. Tell her that she can come and talk to you about anything without any fears.

How can I ensure that my teen is not watching any inappropriate stuff on the internet?

Educate yourself on the Parental guidance and restrictions Applications is a good idea to start with. You can also check your teens phone for his surfing history & chats once in a while.

However I can’t stress enough on the fact that communication and having a friendly relation with your teen is an awesome tool that parents have. It is so helpful in being in touch with the happenings in your teen’s life. Connect with her not with the purpose of getting information but with the intent of genuine care & support.

And what about the health risks associated with being own screens?

Yes, we need to manage these while being reasonable to our kids on their screen times. While we all worry about obesity, & mental wellbeing of our kids when they spend excessive amounts of time online, it is all the same for any other interest that they would have.

For instance, I had my mom telling me similar things about excessive reading while I was young. Because, the time I spent reading, I was not outdoors, & was loosing on developing my social skills. And I am doing fine now. So yes balance is the key. However, spending 30 mins more than the scheduled time online is not going to harm her health in a big way. Frankly speaking, it is more of a question of hurting your ego than her loosing on to great health.

How I Manage Screen Times for my Teen Daughter

So yes, I am ok if my teen wants to spend some more time in front of her screen. And, all i worry about is that she does not ignore her other routine activities. What content she is consuming and she is not overriding it are other things that I do keep a check on.

And with my personal experience on the subject, I can easily say that my teen daughter is extremely proficient with technology.  Not only that, she has developed to be an all rounder. She has a good general awareness and a high IQ. Additionally, she has developed good skills in finding out relevant, exciting and quality content.

One of the strategies that have worked for me is not talking much about our screen limits. So when I see her over spending time in front of her mobile, I get back to her in creative ways to remind her of her scheduled activities for the day. She knows the underlying fact that her spending time on screen does not bother or upset me. So I have never really faced a back lash or a conversation jam with her on this subject.

Infact I engage with my kids and do share content of their interest. Additionally, we talk about pictures her friends upload and the series she wants to watch on Netflix. I even help her in taking the picture she wants to for the Social Media Upload. 

We usually end up spending our family fun time listening to stories & solving creative riddles that she has recently found on the internet. And listening to useful and life enriching hacks from my 13 year old teen daughter is a lot of fun too. 

Conclusive Answer to What is appropriate screen Time for a 18 year old

I would like to say that while deciding on the appropriate screen time for your teen, go by what your instincts tell you. And, keep in check these pointers I have mentioned above. And at the end of it all, screens are not bad but like everything, you must set boundaries for it. Keeping your eyes and ears open and focussing on online safety should be stressed upon. Balance is the key here.

I hope this write up proves helpful in breaking many myths in your minds about screens being the ultimate demons. And I also hope you can now answer this question about apt screen time for your teen confidently. So, do share the tips and strategies that worked for your for your teen with me. You can write to me in the comments section of this post.

 Happy Surfing & Happy Parenting!