Worried your child is spending way too much time online? Discover 10 practical ways to encourage a healthier balance…
Whether your child is gaming, scrolling or socialising online, it’s not uncommon to have concerns about how much time they spend staring at a screen. Now that we’re all working and learning from home, our online time has increased more than ever, and it can be difficult to down the devices and give our eyes and minds a much-needed break. Especially for teens.
You probably know from experience how difficult it is to convince your teen to part with their mobile, console, laptop or tablet, even just for a short while. Yet the benefits of reducing screen time really could make a difference to your teen: it helps to lower stress levels and reduce eye strain caused by blue light, as well as improving your teen’s sleeping pattern and general mood.
Read our 10 simple ways to encourage your teen to cut down on their screen time:
- Negotiate limits.
Did you know that you can track and limit your screen time? On an iPhone, go to Settings and then Screen Time to get an overview of how much time you’re spending online. You can set time limits and schedule time away from the screen. If your teen isn’t keen to do this, why not agree to a ‘switch-off’ time in the evening where all screens are turned off until the next day, or discuss having a daily screen-free period throughout the day? Your teen can use this screen-free time to exercise, read a book or have a long, relaxing bath.
- Disable notifications.
You can encourage your teen to disable notifications to reduce the amount of time she or he spends glancing at their phone when it beeps for the millionth time. Reducing distractions can really help when you’re trying to reduce your screen time.
- Charge devices elsewhere.
Set up a charging station away from your teen’s bedroom to discourage late night scrolling. Your teen might grumble about needing their phone because they use the alarm to get up in the morning, but you can offer to wake them instead, or, better still, give them a good old-fashioned alarm clock to avoid any early-morning arguments!
- Offline reading.
Encourage your teen to read offline instead of online, where possible. Whether it’s schoolwork or the latest goss, try to encourage your teen to pick up a book, magazine or newspaper.
- One screen rule.
How many times have you walked into your teen’s room to find an unwatched TV blaring in the background while they flip through their phone at the same time? Suggest a one-screen rule to reduce the number of screens your teen is using at any one time.
- Screen-free dinners.
No TV dinners here! Banish devices at the table and eat meals in a screen-free environment. Turn off the TV, pop any phones in another room and enjoy eating and chatting together without the distractions of screens.
- Bathroom banishment.
Encourage your teen to leave their device when they go to the bathroom. Not keen? Now might be a good time to remind your teen that the average mobile phone is ten times dirtier than a toilet seat. Gross.
- Streamline apps.
Ask your teen to take a look at the apps they have on their phone and delete or remove any of those that they don’t really use. Streamlining their apps and home screen can really help to reduce the urge to scroll listlessly through content they’re not even particularly interested in.
- Create a device dump.
Set up a box or basket for your family’s devices. Get everyone to agree on a set screen-free period every day and ask the whole family to pop their devices in the ‘dump’ for the allotted time.
- No screens = better sleep.
Encourage your teen to ditch the screens before bedtime. Blue light can have a negative impact on our sleeping patterns so ditching the late-night scrolling really can help your teen have a better night’s sleep. Suggest swapping out the screen for a good book instead!
Commit to reducing your own screen time alongside your teen. Most of us could probably benefit from cutting back, plus it’s a whole lot easier to get your teen onside if you’re prepared to follow the same rules.
You could plan some fun treats or activities for your teen’s designated screen-free time to motivate and encourage them. Your teen is far more likely to succeed in reducing their screen time if you commit to making the same lifestyle changes as they do!