Teenagers spend a lot of time online these days. Teens access the web many ways: on a smart phone or other mobile device, tablet, or computer. Because these devices are everywhere, teens spend a lot of time online.
For most teens, a majority of that time is spent on their cell-phones. A Pew Internet and American Life Project study in 2011 found that more than 75% of teens own cell-phones (this was up from 45% in 2004). Teens nowadays use their phones to text, surf the web, connect on social networks, play games, and listen to music. Phones are not the only way teens get screen time – computers, tablets, and TVs also take up lots of their time.
Numerous studies have found that teens spend an average of 8-10 hours a day consuming media – surfing the Web, social networking, listening to music, watching TV, and playing video games. One study found that teens text up to 60 times a day!
That is a lot of time away from things like exercising, having a face-to-face conversation with a friend or family member, and maybe even reading a book! Screen time is sedentary activity, meaning you are sitting still and not using much energy. It is also far greater than the max recommended amount of 2 hours per day.
Too much screen time increases your risk for certain health problems like:
Being overweight (or obese)
- Sitting and watching a screen is time spent not being physically active
- Screen ads on TV or elsewhere can lead to unhealthy food choices. Most of the time, the foods in ads aimed at kids or teens are high in sugar, salt, or fats.
- Children eat more when they watch TV
A higher risk of attention problems, anxiety, and depression.
- Problems in these areas can affect your relationships with friends or family
- These problems can affect your school performance
- Making it harder to sleep at night
- Not enough sleep can affect your mood and school performance
What can you do?
Spend a few hours less each day in front of a screen.
- No more than 2 hours of screen time per day. Some days it is OK to exceed this limit if it is homework related
- This will give you more opportunities to engage in healthy lifestyle activities. Did you know that you should try to exercise for one hour every day?
- It will also allow you more time talking to or spending time with real people, and not just their online versions of themselves
If you have homework that requires you to use the internet, then stay focused on your work and try not to get distracted by social media, email, video games, or internet surfing unrelated to your homework
- Close all apps or windows that are not related to your homework
- Stay focused on your work and get it done faster
Charge electronic devices outside of your bedroom. That way you won’t be tempted to get online, watch TV, or play a game as you are winding down before bed
- No TV in your bedroom
- Set a reasonable bedtime and turn off all screens an hour before that time
Excessive screen time and the health risks it poses are not the only dangers of our wired world. Teens spend a lot of time on social media sites, playing video games against others online, and surfing the web visiting lots of different websites. Not everyone is who he or she says they are. It is easy to hide behind the Internet and create a fake personality. Some people do this to lure teenagers into relationships based on false pretenses. These bad actors may simply want to toy with your emotions, try to get money from you, or worse. You have to be certain that you know who you are dealing with and trust that it is someone you know to be a real person. If you are not sure about someone you meet online, or if you feel that someone is trying to take advantage of you then please let your parents or another responsible adult know right away.
http://www.netsmartz.org/teens is a great website with lots of information about online safety and specifically what to do if you feel that someone is trying to take advantage of you or is cyber-bullying you.
Social media is any media that brings together people for the purpose of building relationships. As we all know, relationships can be tricky – this goes for online relationships too. It is easier for people to say anything online than it is directly face-to-face, but it’s especially easy to say hurtful or negative things during and online interaction. Once you post something and someone else reads it, there is no going back. So be careful about what you post.