Family Life

Stop the Scrolling

The dog days of summer are officially here, which means you’re probably fighting boredom among everyone in the house right about now. And, these days, when people get bored, we usually resort to our screens: TVs, laptops, and, of course, our cell phones. There’s no getting away from these devices, and, while they’re beneficial for gaming, creating, and communicating, it’s a well-known fact that they can be damaging to our wellbeing if we spend too much time on them. So, what do you do when your teenager is spending too much time on their devices? Here are some suggestions for lessening their screen time:

Did you know that your iPhone can show you how much time you spend on it? Most iPhones have a setting that tracks your screen time, and you may be surprised when you see how much time you spend on your phone. Your teen can cut their screen time in half by choosing a creative activity to do instead. For example, if they are typically gaming or scrolling on their phone for four hours, they can have two hours of screen time and use the other two hours for painting, drawing, reading, or writing. Play an instrument, build a Lego castle, or color in a coloring book. Artsy activities such as these will keep your brain sharp, and you may even discover a new pastime.

Speaking of reading, your teen likely has a few books to tackle before school starts again. Set a reading schedule so they finish their summer reading on time, and make sure they take notes so they don’t forget any of the material. Regardless of a summer reading list, reading books in their spare time will help your teen stay on top of their game because reading will increase their concentration, improve their literacy, and expand their knowledge of words and the world around them. So, have your teen take a trip to the library and pick a book (any book) that interests them. Who knows–they might find reading to be more enjoyable than they thought it is.

Your teen may find the activities they do to shorten their screen time help them find a new hobby. Maybe they discovered they love to write or they’re pretty good at playing the guitar. Other popular hobbies include gardening, crocheting, and thrifting. Your teen could earn some money with these hobbies, too, if they want to start a small business.

Summertime is the best time to start looking for a job. Whether they want a temporary job for the summertime or a part-time job they will carry into the new school year, a job will replace their screen time while also teaching them important life skills they will carry into adulthood.

There are plenty of benefits of volunteering, and plenty of organizations in your area are looking for volunteers to help their cause. Along with being beneficial for the community, volunteering lowers depression and anxiety and increases your self confidence and sense of purpose. Your teen can find an organization that suits them best and spend part of their day serving their community instead of scrolling through social media. Some places that are looking for volunteers include churches, food pantries, and animal rescue shelters.

Though exercising may not be as ideal as doing arts and crafts and reading a book, it’s important to incorporate exercise into your routine not because you should change the way you look, but so you can retain your physical and mental health. You don’t even need a gym membership for regular exercise! Instead, your teen can walk the dog, ride their bike around the neighborhood, or practice a sport at a local park. If they prefer not to be outside in the heat, they can buy workout gear such as a yoga mat and some dumbbells and watch some tutorial videos on YouTube. That way, they can exercise in the comfort of their own home (and in the AC!). 

It’s not just teenagers that need a break from their screens, however. We could all benefit from taking a step away from our devices, which means these suggestions apply to parents, too. With your teenager, you could exercise, volunteer, or learn a new hobby. Regardless of how long your social media purge is, you’ll definitely find that you feel better when you dedicate some time to doing something for yourself. ■

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