What is appropriate screen time for teens? Are screens toxic for your teens? Are you looking for some credible answers to these questions? Well, in that case you have reached the right place. This Post is all about teens, their relationship with screens and how do parents intervene to create a fine balance in between them. 

Screens are the ultimate demons in our kids’ lives – Says Who? On one hand, screens are the devils while on the other hand they are also the vital evils in our teen’s lives. When managed appropriately, screen times can actually be quite enabling and empowering for your teens. However if left on its own, unmonitored screen times can lead to a lot of ill effects. Anxiety, depression & under confidence in social relationships are few examples of this.

So focus your energies on supporting your teen to develop a harmonious, functional & friendly relationship with their screens. And not get addicted to their screens. However, I do understand that it is easier said than done. So here is how, I as a mother of 2, deal with the screens in my house.

What is appropriate screen time for teens

what is appropriate screen time for teens

The above data is sourced from Common Sense Media

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. 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. 

Appropriate Screen Times for 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 Times in Teens

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. 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. Parents need to fine-tune the kid’s digital engagement quality and time.

UNICEF study report 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. 

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 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 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.

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.

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

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.

How I Manage Screen Times for my Teen:

So 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.

We usually end up listening to interesting stories, answering creative riddles and listening to such useful and life enriching hacks from my 12 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 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.