Teens & Screens

Teens now spend more than seven hours a day in front of a screen, consuming media— phone, video games, TV and/or computer— according to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation. And not surprisingly, a Survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that, on average, high school students are spending less than an hour per weekday on sports, exercise and recreation. Spending too much time sitting still in front of a screen can have negative health consequences, such as:

  • Poor posture
  • Poor eyesight
  • Poor strength, flexibility and endurance
  • Weight gain
  • Strains of the thumb, wrist and elbow
  • Sleep problems
  • Undeveloped or ineffective social skills

Health experts recommend limiting screen time to less than two hours a day for teens, less than one hour a day for children ages 3 through 12, and no screen time for children under 3. Help your kids find other things to do, and follow these tips as a family for reducing screen time:

  • Turn off the TV during meals, which encourages everyone to eat and talk together.
  • Keep computers, TVs, and video game consoles out of kids' bedrooms, and keep cell phones and iPods out of the bedroom at night.
  • Don't use screen time as a reward.
  • Designate certain days of the week as screen-free days.
  • Exercise as a family by taking walks, riding bikes and playing sports or active games together.
  • Spend time doing something creative (write, draw, take photos) for at least 60 minutes each day.
  • Spend time doing something for others (help a neighbor, volunteer, recycle).
  • Keep track of each family member's screen time to see how you're doing.

As a parent, you have the power to help your teen develop healthier habits, and the most effective way to do this is by setting an example yourself. You can help take charge of your family's screen time by taking charge of your own.

Source: National Institutes of Health