The eternal question that falls into the KLIKD mail box is HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH/ TOO MUCH SCREEN TIME?” In a year where the screen has become the console for conducting every aspect of our teen’s life from homework to socialising– its hard to find a household with teens/tweens where managing screen time isn’t a challenge.
THE GOOD NEWS: experts across the board (including the original screen time experts at the American Academy of Paediatrics) have recognised that the rigid prescribed screen time limits per age are no longer practical. Instead, the focus is now on PRIORITIES. More good news: learning to prioritise time is a pretty important developmental task for tweens and teens.
Sit down with your screenager, spare them the lecture and ask them what they really want to make time for in their day – Consider their 24-hour day as a vehicle which needs to be filled with various important components. The analogy of a glass to be filled with different pebbles (from Steven Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) is a good one.
Without judgement, let your teen work out how the jar should be filled, knowing that they want to include Fortnite for example, but have to ensure the other biggies are in there too – enough sleep, enough exercise, time for real in person socialising, homework, exam revision etc.
Once these activities are totalled, the rest is up for grabs and could include gaming time a chat on HouseParty, or even some mindless scrolling of Instagram. Take the power struggle out of it.
Although our screenagers may push back at first, empowering them to make choices and think critically about how their day is divided will eventually help her understand her motivations and be better able to succeed in relation to them.
PS – Just a little reminder that games like Fortnite and MineCraft, COD are all designed to hook your child into an addictive loop. The teen brain is especially vulnerable to this relentless seduction. In a good moment, explain this to them. It’s not their fault!!
This reframes the issue as your teen making choices for him/herself, taking responsibility for her valuable time, rather than you restricting his/ her fun.