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Teens, Screen Time – And the Great, Big Beautiful World Out There

Together, but apart

Once, it was simple.

No t.v. for kids under 2. Then, 1-2 hours of “screen time” a day for ages 2 and older. That was pretty easy. (Well, okay, not always easy, per se, but we got it and we did our best to acknowledge the benefits, the risks, and put forth appropriate limits.)

Is it just me or has “screen time” become an elusive thing? Not only for us as a society, but for our growing teens? Let’s face it, screen time consumes us all, sometimes, doesn’t it?

Especially those teens. The average teen sends 3,340 texts per month. That’s a little over 100 texts a day.

We all know the potential downsides of unmonitored, undisciplined, unyielded “screen time” for our children – and our teens: potential sleep problems, increased risk for obesity, greater chance of attention problems, anxiety, and depression, just to name a few.

Yet, how do we most effectively teach, instill, and model behaviors for technology, in a way that allows technology to enhance our teen’s life, rather than — ultimately — encumbering it? It’s a question, I think, that challenges us all, on some level. The guidelines remain the same: 1-2 hours of screen time a day for ages 2 and older. Can we even still do the math, according to the recommended guidelines? At over 100 texts per day, phone usage itself practically exceeds the recommended amount.

Like anything else, kids (and we) need a balance. All things in moderation. There is a time and place for everything — even in our 24/7 connected world of instant response.

Let us not lose sight of the value of making time for the true important things in life – and cherishing them. Let us allow that precious down time into our days . . . if even for just a few minutes . . . to put down the phone . . . to look away from the computer . . . that precious time to talk (eye-to-eye), to look out the window, to listen to the words of the song – not to mention pondering life and all that it holds.

Let’s remind ourselves, and let’s model it for our kids. It’s a big and beautiful world out there. Let’s not miss it.

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