Cutting Back on Screen Time

Tablets and laptops can be amazing educational tools. Smartphones, social media and video games are fun and can be very interactive. Technology in the hands of young people is not bad. But, the time spent on these devices seems to be getting out of hand for many preteens and teens.
According to CNN.com, “53% of tweens (ages 8-12) have their own tablet and 67% of teens have their own smartphones. Mobile devices account for 41% of all screen time for tweens and 46% for teens.”
And, according to Common Sense Media, teens in the US spend about 9 hours a day using media for their enjoyment. That leaves very few hours left in the day to do much else.

We’ve compiled a list of ideas we think may be helpful to help cut back on screen time in your household:

1. Be a good Role Model. Always checking your email? Scrolling through the news? Now may be a good time to monitor your own behavior and make adjustments around your tweens and teens.

2. Set a Schedule for Media Use. This will only work if you set a schedule according to your family’s needs. Is your teen daughter always on her iPhone? Perhaps you will need to turn off her notifications, use her “Do Not Disturb Setting” or only allow her to have her phone at certain times of the day. Is your son playing video games morning til night? Perhaps set an hour limit and let him choose when that hour of the day is.

3. No Media at the Table. Mealtime should be a time to connect with one another. Plus, it’s just plain bad manners to be staring at your device while sharing a meal with others. If this is a problem in your household, perhaps a good idea would be to put your devices in a drawer or a basket until mealtime is over.

4. No Devices at Bedtime or in Bedroom. This will probably mean taking their phones, tablets and laptops out of their bedrooms, even when they protest.

5. Screen Free Activities. Try to schedule and engage in screen free activities. Play outside, play board games, read books, cook a meal, go for a hike. Remind your teens there are endless activities that don’t involve screens.

6. Be consistent. If you have set boundaries and you have had success, keep up with them. The changes will be difficult at first, but over time, everyone will adjust.

Project B3 Tips and Suggestions:
  • If your child loves a certain video game, app or YouTube personality, ask to play or watch it with them. It is a part of their lives they can share with you
  • A great solution to cutting back on phone use is turning off “Notifications” and using the “Do Not Disturb” Setting, whether you are at home or in public
  • If the above restrictions are working well for your family, you may want to try a “Screen Free Day” once a month or once a week.
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