Screen time for teens is a fact of life these days. According to a recent study from the Pew Research Center, teen cell phone access is at an all time high with 95% of teens reporting they own or can access a smartphone.
Banning technology won’t help prepare your children for their future. Instead, we recommend giving them limited access to screens, monitoring their activity, and having regular digital safety discussions together. Following is a free blog post from Smart Social.com.
How to Limit Screen Time Without Conflict
We asked parents and educators what they were struggling with most when it comes to digital safety and an overwhelming number told us that it’s difficult to set screen time limits with their students. It’s important to help students build healthy screen time habits, but for many parents and educators that’s easier said than done.
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So, we asked 5 experts to share their best tips parents can use to limit screen time. In this post, learn how you can create a daily routine for your family, how to encourage your students to earn screen time, how to model positive behaviors, how to take a social media break, and more.
1. Build a daily routine for your family
Elizabeth Malson, President of Amslee Institute
Parents have a lot to manage and it’s easy for kids to get several hours of screen time a day. Depending on the age of the child, it may be challenging to switch from screens to activities. Don’t underestimate the power of a bored child, without a screen children usually find something to do, especially if they have a bin of toys, a set of legos, books, bikes, and other age appropriate activities. It may take a few weeks for the child to realize they need to find something else to do with their time. Reducing screen time can help children develop life skills, like how to self-regulate their use of media and have more time to advance academically.
To develop personal responsibility, accountability, and the importance of helping family members, introduce children to household management chores and teach them cooking, how to fold laundry, and cleaning. If the children are too young, instead of screen time, have them work on puzzles, builds lego sets using an instruction book, read out loud, complete supplemental workbook pages in an education binder, spell words, make up a song, or turn on the music and dance. When dinner, dishes, and other chores are done, go on a neighborhood walk or bike ride each night. During this time, talk about space, the stars, the forest, and stop to look at bugs and collect rocks. Following these steps can help build learning into your daily routine.
2. Challenge your student to take a one-week vacation/detox from social media
Josh Ochs, Founder of SmartSocial
Teach students that social media can (and should) be utilized as a tool for good but that it is important to take breaks from time to time. Challenge your student to consider deleting their Instagram and/or Snapchat from their phone for one week (and take a social media detox/vacation). Before taking their “low tech vacation,” students can announce to their friends that they are focusing on school and that they can be reached by text directly. Then, help your student delete their Snapchat, Instagram, and any other time consuming apps from their phone for one week.
If your student doesn’t want to delete their apps, consider having them unfollow 100 people on Snapchat and/or Instagram. This will free them up to only follow people they are close with (and has been shown to reduce social media anxiety).
3. Kids should earn time on the internet instead of it just being given to them
Brittany Jean-Louis, LPC, A Freeman’s Place Counseling
Part of earning screen time is through creating a behavior modification system in which kids are required to do something (do chores, have a good behavior day at school, complete homework, etc.) to earn something (sleeping over a friend’s house, playing video games, getting on the internet, etc.). The behavior modification can be a chart created by parents and kids together. The chart can include at least 3 target behaviors (for example, complete wake up routine, attend school with no behavioral issues, come home and complete a chore, etc.). When those target behaviors are met the kid can earn screen time. Creating the target behaviors and even the amount of screen time that can be earned should be discussed as a family; kids will feel apart of this process which increases self-esteem and cooperation with something they have collaborated on. Parents should also use strength based language in discussing limits. For instance instead of saying “too much screen time is bad” a parent can say “we know how important it is for a kid your age to have access to the internet but we want to ensure that you are well rounded as a person. Therefore, we want to see you doing homework first and foremost, participating in an extracurricular activities and then having screen time.
4. Set hours and schedule social media blackout days to limit screen time
Justin Lavelle, Chief Communications Officer for BeenVerified
Not setting limits on technology usage is a big mistake. Many parents believe if kids are participating in age appropriate technology everything is fine. Studies show that some kids may have a propensity to become tech addicts. Kids who partake in too much tech time tend to be anxious, have a hard time making and keeping friends, and can develop low self-esteem. It is essential to set hours and schedule blackout days to keep kids involved in real life activities and relationships.