23 May Teens and Screens: The Benefits of Limiting Screen Time for Teens
Teens are often up late studying, watching videos, playing games, or chatting with friends online. While staying connected to the world can be a positive side effect of technology, it can also negatively impact sleep, which as we know can be essential for mental health. As teens look into the blue light of their phones or computers, it can disrupt melatonin production, often leading to lowered sleep time and quality. Encourage your teen to work towards a sleeping schedule while they learn how to reduce screen time gradually. They can set hard stop times each day with an alarm to remind them that it is time to put their phone or computer away. With the remaining time, they can pursue a relaxing bedtime activity that allows them to unwind and drift off into a peaceful sleep.
Videos or online games might replace some of the time that teens might otherwise spend staying mentally and physically active. While teens can use technology to watch documentaries or even practice an exercise routine, it is still important to set aside time to challenge themselves intellectually and engage in movement offline. Help your teen limit screen time by scheduling an outdoor activity to do together like spending time in nature on a hike or starting a weekly board game night! Creating dedicated time to enjoy their surroundings can help them feel reconnected to themselves, their planet, and their community.
Screen time for teens can be an opportunity to gather inspiration and engage in creativity. But when it comes to imagination, it can also do some of the heavy lifting for teens or create unrealistic expectations. One particularly robust culprit is social media. Time on a platform intended to improve creativity and connection can quickly grow out of control, becoming reflexive. Hours spent impulsively scrolling can drain a lot of the time they might rather spend pursuing their passions. It can even stifle creativity by pushing teens to compare themselves with others. For a change of pace, encourage your teen to get out an instrument, dance around, grab a paintbrush, or simply pick up a pen. With technology aside, they can let their true imagination take over and their creativity shine.
Computers, tablets, and eBooks can be powerful resources for learning and studying. However, they can also create a dispassionate feeling towards schoolwork. Additionally, the endless opportunities for distraction can often make studying take longer. So, whenever possible, encourage your teen to pick up a physical book from the library, use their existing hard copies to study at night, set up study dates with friends, and observe the world around them. Time spent away from the screen can help refresh their mind to make them better prepared to absorb information in their classes or during dedicated study hours.
Spending quality time with friends and family is essential for mental health. Teens who spend too much time on screens can often be doing so at the expense of time that they might otherwise be laughing, playing, developing or learning with their loved ones. If your teen is often texting or video calling to stay in touch, this can be great in small doses. But time using online interfaces cannot replace genuine face to face interactions. So, encourage your teen to seek the benefits of limiting screen time by having fun with the people in their lives that bring them more joy than a piece of technology ever could!
At Tilly’s Life Center, we are committed to helping teens achieve their best sense of mental health and wellness. While screen time for teens can have its positives and negatives, ultimately, balance is key. We believe that teen mental health resources can make a profound and even life-changing impact on young people, helping them acquire the skills they need to create that sense of balance and growth in their life. Our Social and Emotional Learning curriculum is designed to assist teens in this process of discovering how to practice self care, deal with challenging emotions, and support their own mental health. To learn more, visit us at www.tillyslifecenter.org.