Teens are connected all the time. Aren’t we all? I don’t think my son is any different than other teens when it comes to being on his phone, watching Netflix or even playing video games. Technology is ingrained in our everyday life. I get it. I use technology and spend most of my work day in front of a screen.
As a parent of two teens and a public health nurse, I know screen time can affect both our mental and physical health and that recreational screen time should be limited to 2hrs/day. Recreational meaning watching TV, video games, etc. it doesn’t include educational time such as doing homework. However, I also live in the real world with a 15 year old boy.
So how do you help kids balance their screen time? Well, as a parent of a teen, you are not alone! We are all going through this screen time challenge! Teens don’t automatically know how to live in a world surrounded by screens. Their brains are still developing, so we need to guide and help them make healthy choices.
Here are a few ways to help kids balance screen time:
- Help them set priorities; talk to them about finishing homework before they start playing video games or go on social media.
- Set screen time limits together, turn off the computer/smart phones/tablets at a certain time each night. You can program your Wi-Fi to be on at certain hours.
- Don’t eat in front of your computer or device. Try to have as many family meals as possible with no technology at the table (yes that includes you!)
- Encourage your teen to spend time on other activities such as sports, music, crafts or even just in person get togethers with family and friends.
- Help your teen come up with a good screen time limit; suggest they set a timer to go off after a certain amount of time online.
- Keep tech devices in a common area in your home and away from the bedroom at night.
- Challenge your family to a tech free day and do something outdoors instead.
It is possible to balance physical and emotional needs in a world surrounded by screens. We need to be intentional and help our teens on this journey. There is a place for technology and its here to stay. So let’s all try and keep healthy habits around screens.
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For parenting information or to speak with a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.