Over 95% of teenagers in the US have access to a smartphone, according to the Pew Research Center. Almost half of the teenagers the firm surveyed said that they were virtually always online. Although platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram provide a way for your kids to connect with their family, friends, and even favorite personalities, too much exposure to social media may be detrimental to their mental and physical health.
According to a recent study by Common Sense Media on teenagers and smartphone usage, almost half of the teens surveyed admitted that they were addicted to their smart devices. And though most of them had a favorable view of social media, about one in 10 also reported being cyberbullied.
The report also found that more than 64% of teenagers were exposed to offensive and hateful content online. It’s no surprise that for young adults, social media exposure links to a higher risk of depression and a decline in wellbeing.
As for the physical effects of being glued to the screen, the blue light smart devices and computers emit may cause a person to stay awake for longer and get sleep deprived, Northwestern Medicine said. While sleep deprivation may not be a big deal for some people, it’s linked to a higher risk of anxiety and depressive disorders, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Teens who don’t get much time outside because of their devices are likely to develop obesity as well.
Now that you understand the adverse effects of too much screen time for your teens, it’s time for you to convince them to find some time away from their devices.
Educate Them About the Risks
The first step to solving a problem is recognizing that there is one. As such, you should give your kids a primer on the harmful consequences of too much screen and social media time on their brains and body. Use studies and statistics from trusted sources like government and university portals to drive your point home. Ask them politely to lessen the time they spend on their device. Show that it’s for protection rather than punishment. If your kid still stubbornly disagrees with you, at least you’ve made them aware of the risks.
Assign Unplug Areas
A great way to gradually limit your teens’ screen time is by assigning areas where smart devices and computers aren’t allowed. Start by designating the kitchen and dining room as a no-gadget zone during meals. During such time, make it a habit to catch up on their day at their high school and talk to them about their interests. While it’s challenging to get them off their phones or computers when it’s time for sleep, you should still remind them when it’s time to hit the hay. These soft rules may be awkward to enforce at first, but they’re better than hiding your kid’s devices.
Go on Regular Outdoor Trips
Get your teens off their beds and the couch by scheduling a monthly or weekly outdoor trip. At first, you may be annoyed to see that they continue to look at their screens and take pictures for their Instagram posts and stories, but soon, they will start appreciating outdoor places like Salt Lake City’s many canyons and trails to bother updating their Facebook status.
Smartphone and computer use is normal for most teens; after all, they were born and grew up with these gadgets. Too much of it, however, may have serious consequences to their health and well-being. When your child finally agrees to go on a digital detox, join them! Everyone needs some time away from the screen. And it’s always best to lead by example.