Technology forms an important part of our day to day lives and we rely on it for so many things that we do. (Uber Eats anyone?).

However, too much screen time can be detrimental to our health – no surprises there! Excessive screen time has been linked to:

  • sleep problems
  • obesity
  • behavioural problems
  • educational problems

A recent study suggested that Australians spend more than one-third of each day, over 9 hours a day, in front of a computer, mobile phone or television.

So how do we find the right balance for our teenagers (and for ourselves)?

While it’s important that teenagers are familiar and comfortable with technology, screen time should be part of a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

Here is some advice for ensuring a healthy balance:

  • Like with YOUNGER CHILDREN, teenagers need rules in place to guide screen time. Allow them to be a part of the rule making process. Talk to them about their needs and concerns, and take their opinions into account when setting rules.
  • Rules in place should apply to the whole family (yes, including parents!) – this will improve communication and family connectedness. So, lead by example. Put the TV off and phones away during meal times. Don’t look at your phone while talking to your teen (that text message can wait!).
  • Make sure screen time sessions are short and timed. This might mean setting a timer, so that breaks every 30 – 60 minutes are enforced, or you could look for the natural break in their activity, such as the end of an episode, or the passing of a game level to remind them to take a break. Even just a quick stretch, glass of water and some time spent talking to a family member can help to keep the balance.
  • Avoid screen time before bed. Stopping screen time at least 1 hour before bed time will ensure your teen gets to sleep more quickly – they need their rest!
  • Keep screens out of the bedroom, particularly at night. This will remove temptation and ensure your teenager is not being disturbed by notifications throughout the night.