Screen Time Rules

10 Ways to Limit Screen Time in Teens

Delaney Ruston, MD
October 15, 2019
Animated phone with lady and an arrow pointing right

For years now kids and teens spontaneously tell me how they feel like they spend too much time on screens. But many of them also tell me ways they work to cut down on screen time.

I have always found that when engaging with youth and teens about ways to prevent excessive screen time, it works extremely well to give examples of what other young people do. So this TTT could really help you in having a great conversation this week with youth in your life.
(*Remember to look for the printer icon on the left-hand side of this page and you can generate a printer-friendly version. Click any images you don’t want to print and they’ll disappear before printing. Then, you can bring the blog to the dinner table or wherever you can have a short calm conversation about tech with your children or students).

Last week at a screening near Chicago of Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER a high school boy raised his hand and said, “I try to get stuff done, but I keep being distracted by screen stuff, what can I do to prevent this?”

I responded by asking him a question, “I’m curious, is there anything you have tried?” (I always try to ask, in a very respectful tone and non-judgemental way, for ideas youth have on questions they have just posed. It not only gets their brain thinking of solutions – but so often the audience gets great insights from their answers). In this particular situation, the student said he could not think of anything offhand that he had tried.  

I suggested a few that I had heard from other teens. And I am adding those and several others here:

  1. Use tech to manage tech. The other day my son, Chase – who is in college, told me that he uses a web extension to stay on track. He emailed me this info about it: “It's called SelfControl and is helpful for staying on task as it completely blocks any site you want (i.e. Facebook) for an allotted time you set. This is quite helpful for reducing temptation.”
  2. Unfollow things that are a time sink for them. They’ll stop following “satisfying videos” sites also known as “oddly satisfying videos.” Soap cutting, baking, playing with slime, eggshell crushing, paint mixing, etc. fall into this category.
  3. Make themselves accountable. They may do this by telling a friend or a parent or posting on social media about a new goal for the week – then promise themselves they will report back how they fared that week in attaining the goal.
  4. Turn off notifications. They’ll turn off post notifications on Instagram or Snapchat.
  5. Decide not to get social media in the first place. The other day I was talking with teens about Snapchat vs. Instagram and a 9th-grade girl told me she did not have either.  \I asked her why and she said, “I don’t want that time sink.” She added that it was not a parent’s decision but truly her own. Another teen girl told me she is not going to download Tik Tok for she is sure it will be “too much of a time suck.”
  6. Remove their devices at night. The day after I spoke at a screening of NEXT CHAPTER, which looks at the concerning state of sleep in teens, a mom told me that her daughter, who no longer lives with her but who came with her to the screening, called her the next day to say she decided to keep her phone out of her bedroom and she slept noticeably better.
  7. Put their own limits on their phones. Teens often tell me that with setups like “ScreenTime” on their phone, they only use social media for 1 or 2 hours a day — and they are happy to have that hard-set limit.
  8. Remove games from their tablet or phone. This simple action reduces temptation.
  9. Replace “online” with “in-life.” In Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER we hear from a sweet middle schooler who talks about playing a lot of video games in 8th grade and one day he stopped and asked himself, “Am I really enjoying this, am I happy?”  which prompted him to call a friend and go out and skateboard which he now does a lot more and it makes him really happy.
  10. Purposely get grounded from their phone. No joke, I have heard from teens and tweens how they pushed their family screen rules in part to get their phone taken away (for a few days) so they could have a break from their phone but could blame not being able to respond to friends on their parents. Yes, this is rare but it is good food for discussion.

Here are a couple of questions to get a conversation started for this week’s Tech Talk Tuesday:

  1. When you realize that you have spent too much time on your screen, what gives you the power to stop?
  2. Let’s all pick one of the ideas above to try. But first, try to measure how much time you spend on the screen now. Then, compare that to the amount you spend when you try one of the hacks.

If you want to host a screening of the movie in your community, please fill out this form.

**I wanted to share this great piece that Good Morning America did about Screeenagers NEXT CHAPTER. They came to our Seattle premiere event and interview Delaney and here daughter Tessa.

*We would love for you to share this TTT any way that works for you, whether that’s on social media or via a newsletter. If you want to send it out in your newsletter we just ask that you credit us and link to our website, and let us know at lisa@screenagersmovie.com.

Stay in touch with the Screenagers community on Facebook, Twitter and leave comments below.

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Available now - Parenting in the Screen Age, from Screenagers filmmaker Delaney Ruston MD

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Find a Screening - Find a community screening close to you or watch our movies on demand

Learn More
Screenagers Podcast

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Available now - Parenting in the Screen Age, from Screenagers filmmaker Delaney Ruston MD

Learn More
Host a Screening Button

Community Screenings - Learn more about hosting your own Screenagers community screening event!

Learn More
Book page button

Available now - Parenting in the Screen Age, from Screenagers filmmaker Delaney Ruston MD

Order Here
Find A screening Button

Find a Screening - Find a community screening close to you or watch our movies on demand

Learn More
Screenagers Podcast

Screenagers Podcast - Join Screenagers filmmaker Delaney Ruston MD for the latest Podcast

Learn More
Book page button

Available now - Parenting in the Screen Age, from Screenagers filmmaker Delaney Ruston MD

Learn More
Host a Screening Button

Community Screenings - Learn more about hosting your own Screenagers community screening event!

Learn More
Host a Screening Button

Community Screenings - Learn more about hosting your own Screenagers community screening event!

Learn More
Find A screening Button

Find a Screening - Find a community screening close to you or watch our movies on demand

Learn More
Screenagers Podcast

Screenagers Podcast - Join Screenagers filmmaker Delaney Ruston MD for the latest Podcast

Learn More
Book page button

Available now - Parenting in the Screen Age, from Screenagers filmmaker Delaney Ruston MD

Learn More
Host a Screening Button

Community Screenings - Learn more about hosting your own Screenagers community screening event!

Learn More
Screen Time Rules

10 Ways to Limit Screen Time in Teens

Delaney Ruston, MD
October 15, 2019
Animated phone with lady and an arrow pointing right

For years now kids and teens spontaneously tell me how they feel like they spend too much time on screens. But many of them also tell me ways they work to cut down on screen time.

I have always found that when engaging with youth and teens about ways to prevent excessive screen time, it works extremely well to give examples of what other young people do. So this TTT could really help you in having a great conversation this week with youth in your life.
(*Remember to look for the printer icon on the left-hand side of this page and you can generate a printer-friendly version. Click any images you don’t want to print and they’ll disappear before printing. Then, you can bring the blog to the dinner table or wherever you can have a short calm conversation about tech with your children or students).

Last week at a screening near Chicago of Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER a high school boy raised his hand and said, “I try to get stuff done, but I keep being distracted by screen stuff, what can I do to prevent this?”

I responded by asking him a question, “I’m curious, is there anything you have tried?” (I always try to ask, in a very respectful tone and non-judgemental way, for ideas youth have on questions they have just posed. It not only gets their brain thinking of solutions – but so often the audience gets great insights from their answers). In this particular situation, the student said he could not think of anything offhand that he had tried.  

I suggested a few that I had heard from other teens. And I am adding those and several others here:

  1. Use tech to manage tech. The other day my son, Chase – who is in college, told me that he uses a web extension to stay on track. He emailed me this info about it: “It's called SelfControl and is helpful for staying on task as it completely blocks any site you want (i.e. Facebook) for an allotted time you set. This is quite helpful for reducing temptation.”
  2. Unfollow things that are a time sink for them. They’ll stop following “satisfying videos” sites also known as “oddly satisfying videos.” Soap cutting, baking, playing with slime, eggshell crushing, paint mixing, etc. fall into this category.
  3. Make themselves accountable. They may do this by telling a friend or a parent or posting on social media about a new goal for the week – then promise themselves they will report back how they fared that week in attaining the goal.
  4. Turn off notifications. They’ll turn off post notifications on Instagram or Snapchat.
  5. Decide not to get social media in the first place. The other day I was talking with teens about Snapchat vs. Instagram and a 9th-grade girl told me she did not have either.  \I asked her why and she said, “I don’t want that time sink.” She added that it was not a parent’s decision but truly her own. Another teen girl told me she is not going to download Tik Tok for she is sure it will be “too much of a time suck.”
  6. Remove their devices at night. The day after I spoke at a screening of NEXT CHAPTER, which looks at the concerning state of sleep in teens, a mom told me that her daughter, who no longer lives with her but who came with her to the screening, called her the next day to say she decided to keep her phone out of her bedroom and she slept noticeably better.
  7. Put their own limits on their phones. Teens often tell me that with setups like “ScreenTime” on their phone, they only use social media for 1 or 2 hours a day — and they are happy to have that hard-set limit.
  8. Remove games from their tablet or phone. This simple action reduces temptation.
  9. Replace “online” with “in-life.” In Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER we hear from a sweet middle schooler who talks about playing a lot of video games in 8th grade and one day he stopped and asked himself, “Am I really enjoying this, am I happy?”  which prompted him to call a friend and go out and skateboard which he now does a lot more and it makes him really happy.
  10. Purposely get grounded from their phone. No joke, I have heard from teens and tweens how they pushed their family screen rules in part to get their phone taken away (for a few days) so they could have a break from their phone but could blame not being able to respond to friends on their parents. Yes, this is rare but it is good food for discussion.

Here are a couple of questions to get a conversation started for this week’s Tech Talk Tuesday:

  1. When you realize that you have spent too much time on your screen, what gives you the power to stop?
  2. Let’s all pick one of the ideas above to try. But first, try to measure how much time you spend on the screen now. Then, compare that to the amount you spend when you try one of the hacks.

If you want to host a screening of the movie in your community, please fill out this form.

**I wanted to share this great piece that Good Morning America did about Screeenagers NEXT CHAPTER. They came to our Seattle premiere event and interview Delaney and here daughter Tessa.

*We would love for you to share this TTT any way that works for you, whether that’s on social media or via a newsletter. If you want to send it out in your newsletter we just ask that you credit us and link to our website, and let us know at lisa@screenagersmovie.com.

Stay in touch with the Screenagers community on Facebook, Twitter and leave comments below.

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