Teens and Screen Time: How Much Is too Much?

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Teens and screen time. How much is too much, especially when it comes to teens and kids? Do you allow your children the freedom of using their tech as much as they’d like or limit usage? Do they give you flack for it? What do you provide as an alternative? Here’s my story on how I maintain a happy household with a tech-loving teen.

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Hi, my name is Karyn and I have a teenager.

“Hi, Karyn.”

While I may be making light of the fact just then, she is a teenager, and all that that implies. She has mood swings, likes to stay up way later than she probably should (it’s ingrained in teens – they’re compelled to stay up late and sleep in. Fact of nature, folks.), and eat junk food. Most of the time, I’m okay with that. She continues to maintain her straight A average in high school, does everything I ask of her, and even helps around the house.

But that “Kid” of mine loves her tech. Loves is probably too subtle a word. She’s, what do the kiddos say now? “Kind of obsessed.” During the school year, if she’s not in classes, doing homework, eating, or sleeping, she’s got some sort of tech with a screen in her hands. And, while I used to think about how she can stare at those screens so much, I’m still amazed at how much The Kid learns from her screen time. Like, seriously astounds me. Just yesterday, I commented on how much I dig cuttlefish. In my eyes, they’re downright fascinating. So what did she do? Pulled up videos on YouTube that she’s watched about them to show me even more cool cuttlefish habits. Also, she’s tech savvy so she’s able to pull up Google maps and help me to navigate on road trips – love that!

It’s in those moments that I realized that, sure, she’s watching video walkthroughs and silly viral videos, but she’s also learned so much. When I was a kid (I sound like my grandparents now!), we had to walk to and from school uphill both ways. Not true, but we did have to learn everything via books and PBS. I still adore PBS and books, but it’s so much easier to Google something in our current world. So, how can I refuse her sitting in front of a screen when I used to do the same, but with my face in a book on in the tele screen?

On a side note, if her grades ever plummeted or if I noticed changes in her behavior when away from her tech, you can bet your bile duct that I’d be the first to pull it out of her hands. I also know what she’s watching and when compliments of access to her YouTube history. Yep, I’m a history creeper mom and proud of it.

Your Take on Teens and Screen Time

Last month, I visited Manhattan to get the scoop. There’s a fun new campaign, Genius of Play, that encourages kids to put down the tech and get out there and play. In a nutshell, its goal is to “increase awareness of the social, emotional, and physical benefits of play among parents”. The big question they want you to answer is how much of kids’ playtime should involve screens? 

So, I want to know, for your family, how much play time is screen time? Do you limit the amount of time your child spends with their tech? If this post has you wondering what’s best for your family, I think that’s a good thing. For help with the answer, head to Genius of Play to help you get the advice you need. On the super-informative website, you’ll get the info you need plus a community to back you up. Bonus: you can score hundreds of free ideas to help encourage kids to put down the tech and play. Play like we did.

Please let me know in the comment section how you encourage your kiddos to play. I’d love to hear your creative stories!

How much is too much screen time when it comes to kids and teens? Here's my take on keeping a happy balance.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by the Toy Association and the Genius of Play. While they gave me the fun topic to write about, all opinions are my own! #GeniusofPlay AD

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