All parents want their teens to use their screen time well. In reality though, parents need to be partners in their kids’ digital content consumption — and not just around time limits.
“Smartphones are a third arm to many tweens and teens — it’s their whole lives,” says Pamela Hurst-Della Pietra, founder and president of Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development, a nonprofit organization focused on the impact of digital media on children. A 2015 Pew Research study found that nearly 1/4 of teens are online “almost constantly.” But Hurst-Della Pietra cautions that you can’t “simply take [their devices] away. And you can’t totally monitor their use.
Still, limits are essential. With the right tools and approach, parents can be less their kids’ digital gatekeepers, and more their digital partners.
Why set limits?
At the recent national convention of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), a new recommendation was issued that capped daily screen time at 2 hours. That’s a lot less time than most teens currently spend online.
Neuroscientists argue that with too many hours of exposure, the so-called blue light emanating from digital devices can impact sleep patterns. Teens who spend significantly more than 2 hours per day glued to their screens are also at greater risk to suffer symptoms related to depression, compared to teens who get at least one hour of daily outdoor activity, according to the Journal of Mental Health and Activity.