What is the 'screen time' for your teenage son?

The role of technology has a central place in everyday life, shaping our behaviour, the way we interact and how we learn. The American Academy of Pediatrics previously recommended a maximum of two hours of ‘screen time’ a day for teenagers. However, research today finds that up to six hours a day is completely normal.

In recent years, debates about screen time have shifted from a focus on quantity to quality. Previously, the dominant assumption guiding advice to parents and professionals who work with children revolved around the potential harm technology poses to children. Recent research has demonstrated that this focus on risk and harm is outdated.

Instead, it is more appropriate to consider the quality of both the content and interactions children are consuming/participating in online. This shift in focus allows for more nuanced guidance to be given to both parents and education professionals, guidance that has been lacking due to the narrow focus on risk mitigation.

Time reports that the use of technology has a positive impact on a child’s wellbeing by enhancing creativity, communication skills, development and self expression. Children are also discovering how technology fits into their lives.

However, the ‘Intelligent use of computers can enhance the life of teenagers but overall they are spending vastly too much time online’ as Sir Anthony Seldon investigated. ‘Screen time’ is beneficial for teenagers in moderation if it does not interfere with school work, co-curricular activities, relationships or sleep. Victoria L. Dunckley, M.D. found that children can become hyper-aroused by gadgets, experiencing ‘Electronic Screen Syndrome’.

The ideal ‘screen time’ for your teenage son is your decision as a parent and dependant on the individual. As common sense media advises, we suggest that parents monitor usage and focus on how their children are absorbing this media. We also recommend that you encourage a healthy balance of exercise, social interactions and other activities away from the screen.

As a school we aim to encourage and facilitate a holistic education. We focus on developing the mental, spiritual, emotional and physical health of each and every boy. For more information and tips on raising boys to support good mental health, subscribe to our monthly enewsletter.