I recently had an opportunity to appear on Breakfast Television (checkout photo #16) speaking on unplugging kids after the summer. Many parents are increasingly aware of the amount of screen time their children have over the course of a day. Think about it: TV, computer (in school, at home), IPOD, cell phone. Add in there a movie or attempts to look up a reference at the library and a modern teenager could easily rack up over 6 hours of screen time without even trying (2 hours TV, 2 hours homework, 1 hour total IPOD, 1 hour total cell phone). Considering the kids are only awake for 16 – 18 hours and are in school for 6.5 hours, that’s a big chunk of their day.
Here are a couple of tips to get you started thinking about how to help your teenager control their screen time:
- As unpopular as it seems, turn off the email alerts and FB or other social media while they are doing homework. Multitasking has been shown not to be effective and it will take them longer to get the homework done (more screen time). Instead, encourage your teen to take regular breaks when they can check in on the pack.
- Insist that your teen take their cell phone out of their room at night and plug it in to charge elsewhere in the house. This strategy is also helpful to get them up in the morning since that phone will give a snapshot of the pack status for the day as soon as they check their texts/BBM or whatever.
- If it isn’t already, consider moving your family computer to a public place. The worst place for a teen to use a computer is in their room. They will stay up until all hours. This is not a life skill worth learning.
- Help your younger teens book physical activity during the week that requires a disconnect from a screen. Clearly this type of direction gets harder as the kids get older but once the pattern is set, and they have a habit of regular activity, they have learned a life skill that is worth hanging on to.