No, not every teen is addicted to Instagram, Snapchat and more. In fact, more and more teens are making a conscious effort to limit the amount of screen time they spend nose down in their smartphone, a strategy that could help their overall happiness levels, according to a recent study out of San Diego State University and the University of Georgia.
Per the researchers, the happiest teens are the ones that spend “a tad less than an hour per day on digital media.” The study also encourages that teens cap their daily screen time use at two hours per day.
Good luck making that happen, you might think in reference to your own smartphone-addicted teen, but that’s the interesting part: More and more teens are taking a break from logging on and scrolling through Tweets and IG Stories posted by “friends.” A report by Buzzfeed explains the backlash: “‘Honestly, it’s exhausting trying to keep up with everything,’ said Jacob Whiting, 18. ‘I don’t care about 99% of the posts on Instagram, I don’t want to compare myself to everyone having more fun than me on Snapchat, I don’t care about 150 characters of someone’s opinion on Twitter. I have enough anxiety.’”
Well said, Jacob.
Still, if your teen is struggling to take social media breaks, there are tactics—and apps—designed to them log off. Here, the ones I’d recommend:
Anyone with an iPhone has access to Screen Time for free, thanks to an update included with the release of the new iOS 12. It’s designed to help you (or your teen) monitor and restrict the amount of time spent on the phone. To access a log of your screen use, simply go to your Settings and scroll down a bit until you see Screen Time. There, you can monitor your own
Created by Disney, this smart family device ($39) taps into your home Wi-Fi so that you can manage every connected device on your home network, both wireless and wired, without having to install additional software. How? Circle allows you to set time limits for different apps and websites, but also set up age-appropriate filters that apply to all devices. You can also set bedtimes and “off” times—aka times when you want your teen to choose screen-free recreation like getting outside and disconnecting from not just their smartphone, but their tablet or laptop, too.
Google Family Link
Available on both Apple and Android devices, this app is all about helping your family create healthy digital habits. Once everyone is connected, set up Google Family Link so that you receive activity reports that detail how much time your teen is spending on their favorite apps. (Ahem, Instagram.) There’s also an option to block downloads from the Google Play Store and hide apps that you’d rather they stay away from. You can even set screen time limits so that, say, during dinner when mindfulness and family togetherness is the goal, you can lock their smartphones so that your teen is forced to log off and take a break.
The bottom line: Social media is a part of our lives, but it shouldn’t run our lives. If it’s tough for adults to limit their use, you can only imagine how challenging it can be for teens. And with happiness at stake, it’s worth teaching—and empowering—them to create healthy habits now.
What tactics do you use to limit your social media use?