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How much screen time does your Preteen/Teen have?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

I have two sons, one is weeks away from turning 13 and the other is 7 years. 

How much screen time does your youth have? I have always been really torn about this and sadly have created the culture in our house that rules are made to be changed. Screen time right now is one hour for school nights (5 days a week) and 3 hours for the other two days. The only time this changes is on nights where I have to leave for a meeting at work and need to be gone longer than one hour, then more time can be had. My son can't believe how absolutely unfair this is, 11 hours a week is just not ENOUGH for him. It is important that you know that this 11 hours a week doesn't even happen if homework is not completed. We have tried unlimited media in the past and it just doesn't work for our family, my husband and I just don't like it. My kids create more, try music, play outside far more when we have restrictions..... the moaning thought about how "horrible it is, having us as parents," and "my friends have so much more...(media, cool cell phone, iPod touch etc.)  time!".

So I am asking mostly to see what other families as screen time regulations..



post #2 of 18

DS 12 screen time went up quite a bit since 7th grade started. He averages about 2 hours on school days but you have to consider that almost all his middle school homework is online. He has to put in 30 minutes a day outside of school to get an "A" in his accelerated math program. His science textbook and all the homework are online. He writes his essays and researches for other class assignments on the computer and most of his school projects are power-point. He usually watches about 30 minutes of tv with us after dinner and plays with his i-pod after getting ready for school in the morning and during car rides to various activities after. On weekends, we usually watch a movie as a family. Every few weeks, he'll do a marathon minecraft Sunday with his buddies. Sooo, about 12 hours on a low week... could be up to 20 hours on a high week.


We don't place limits because we don't need to BUT, I totally understand doing so when kids aren't naturally finding a balance that works with the family. From about 13.5-14.5, we really knuckled down on our eldest because she was not finding what we felt was a healthy balance. By 15, the media frenzy had ended and she started to return to the books and activities she had prior to that year. At 16, she average less than DS.


P.S. Don't feel bad about changing rules. Most rules should be regularly revisited and adapted should the players or situations change. If you never re-evaluated the rules, you'd have 16-year-olds with an 8pm bedtime and 30 minutes of PBS afterschool and before bath lol.

Edited by whatsnextmom - 2/6/13 at 2:44pm
post #3 of 18

Hi, I am new here.  


I have two boys, ages 12 and 9.  There are no restrictions on screen time.  As long as homework is being done and grades are good, my husband and I don't sweat it.  We don't require that they even complete homework beforehand.  We let our 9-year-old have some screen time right after school.  It's his time for a little break and then he gets to homework. Our 12-year-old usually likes to go outside after school to shoot hoops in the driveway.


The 12-year-old prefers to be outside and doesn't use technology for entertainment as much as the 9-year-old.  The 9-year-old is very interested in video games, Minecraft, and YouTube.  He will happily spend hours a day behind screen.  It is not uncommon for me to shut everything down and insist he go outside.  He doesn't protest and always has fun outside with his brother and the rest of the neighborhood kids.


A typical school day for the 9-year-old kid who loves technology is:  


No screen time before school.  Not because we forbid it, there is just no time.  We ride our bikes to school, so no screens in car.


Right after school (2:15 pm) a half hour to an hour of screen time.  


Homework plus 30+ minute reading requirement (sometimes he does homework and reading beforehand)


Plays outside

Practices piano


Screen time (his favorite activity next to video games is playing on his Nexus 7.  He will watch YouTube or play games in his bedroom for hours alone, happily).  


Bedtime at 8:30 pm



On any given school day he could be using screens for entertainment for a half-hour to three hours.


I used to have anxiety (and still do have my doubts and worries) over his excessive use of his tablet and obsession with video games.  I worry that I am doing him a disservice by allowing him to spend so many hours engaging in games and watching guys playing video games on YouTube.  I thought it wasn't healthy and worried that his childhood memories would consist of times in his room watching YouTube.   I have eased up a bit because he absolutely loves his tablet and game console.   He enjoys it so much and I have no good reason to limit it unless it becomes a problem.   He does very well academically.  He enjoys school, has friends, and still has activities other than video games and YouTube.


There are rare times where I will confiscate tablets and forbid video games.  Just this evening both of my boys were outside playing outside with their friends.  I called them in.  They ignored me.  I called them again.  They stalled and ignored me some more.  I took away their screen time for tonight. 

Edited by Trinny - 2/7/13 at 5:34pm
post #4 of 18
I have 3 kids, girls ages 12 & 9 and a 6 yr old son. Our rule is no screen time of any kind on a school night (Sun-Thur) unless it's for homework. So no iPads, DS, TV etc etc. Friday night is usually movie night often with friends for sleepovers and popcorn etc. All our kids would probably use screens a lot more if they had access but it creates a much more harmonious home with everyone relating better and doing more together. My son has calmed down a bit but a year ago he was getting so addicted to computer games I didn't consider it helpful. He does a lot more reading now especially his favorite series is "Beast Quest" so he's still getting to vanquish monsters everyday.

Weekends they can have more access but we still limit it, we just found that they argue and disrespect each other more if staring at screens too much. In fact my son said it made his "tummy hurt" if he played for too long. They need to play, have fun and be with us all relating. I admit I have to tear myself away from the iPad myself (!) so I understand how easy it can be to spend too much time in two dimensions.
post #5 of 18
Screen time hasn't caused any problems here because my daughter isn't that into them, despite access to a TV and iPad and iPod touch and Nintendo DS. She has screens but she lightly uses them. She spends more time reading, doing art/crafts, playing with friends, and playing with her sister. Therefore, I have no rules about screens. I know she's only using them if she can't think of anything else to do.

However, if I did have to have a rule, I think an hour every school day and three hours on weekend days would feel generous to me. I think that's very reasonable and if it's off, it's off on the high side.

Is there any way to encourage other interests rather than take away screens? I've always tried to just have other things she found more fun available and woo her away from screens rather than specifically limit them. But I know that doesn't work for everyone. Also it's harder in the winter when there as many outside things they like to do. And I think it's harder as they get older and play differently. Younger kids play by running around and making forts or whatever, but tweens start to play by sitting down and talking, or by using computers and playing Minecraft, and as they get to be teens even more so. This might be a bigger issue for us as my daughter gets older. She's barely 11 now.
post #6 of 18

dunno. i am not too bad on this. 


we've gone years when we really havent had time for screen time. 


other days dd has had a lot of screen time. 


mostly she is NOT addicted to screen time. in fact in our house its encourage so she can pull her nose out of her book. 


dd reads a lot of manga and reads it on the screen. so some weeks she can go without the screen, at other times she can easily spend 20 hours or more on the screen.


with her friends - they watch silly youtube videos. so really today she does screen time as a social activity. but then the play hard at the park or bikes and scooters so i cant complain. so on a school night if sometimes she wants to spend 2 hours on the computer i cant grudge her that. 


by the way i dont call online homework time screen time. for me screen time means leisure - not work. 

post #7 of 18

I have a dd 9 years old.  Our rule is zero screen time.  It works well for us.

post #8 of 18
Originally Posted by emilysmama View Post

I have a dd 9 years old.  Our rule is zero screen time.  It works well for us.

i am curious how you do this. 


we have computers at home. i use it a lot for school work. before that i used to bring work home and so worked on it. how could i say no to dd with something that i use so often.


in our defense - we dont watch tv. 


at 9 too dd was using her online math book to do homework instead of lugging a tome home with her. unless of course you home school.

post #9 of 18
The limit for us is not as much how much screen time, as what's allowed on the screen. We have a tv and dvd player. That's it. No HDTV box, cable or satellite. If we want to watch something, it must be something we own or borrowed, and we must watch together. We have a computer and a couple educational games, but otherwise it's what you do with the computer in the way of art, writing or programming. Internet is available only on my android, so I must give permission. Again, what is being accessed is limited because I watch, too. We homeschool, so there's not the homework first issue. In fact, the computer is part of education.
post #10 of 18

Dd is almost 13 years old. We don't have a set rule about screen time. Dd has access to dvd's, Netflix, computer and video games. I would say she probably uses one of those things 1-3 hours a day.  We use  the computer or tv as part of homeschooling on a regular basis.

We do not have cable or sattelite tv. Dd does not have an ipod, ipad or any cell phone. Dd does not have free access to the internet at this time.


If dd is not getting other things done or trying to play video games all day then I tell her it needs to go off. There needs to be a balance of activities.

post #11 of 18

We don't limit at all. Ds uses his laptop essentially all day (he's homeschooled) and the tv is on for background noise most of the time. If I want us to get outside and get some exercise, I give him a heads up that I want to go for a walk soon and ask him how long til he'll be ready. He'll tell me 30 minutes or so but might be at a good stopping point sooner. Rather than limiting and expecting him to find something else to do on his own, I try to give him attractive options. That did work better when he was younger (he's 11 now) when going to a playground or roller skating or bowling was more of a novelty and he enjoyed things like building with legos more.


Now he's in a bit of an awkward stage where he feels he has been there done that with all the easy affordable activity options. Nothing wrong with a kid being bored but my ds was never ever one to entertain himself. It isn't due to a lack of imagination, just a strong need for interaction. So I tend to come up with alternatives because whatever he is going to do that isn't using the computer is going to involve me, anyway. I want to make sure his choosing to use the computer is a real choice and that he knows what his options are, where I could take him, etc. Because he's an only child in a neighborhood where there are no kids playing outside, and because he has a very high need for interaction, the computer is his primary time filler. He is hardly interested in watching tv because he just doesn't go for passive entertainment. Since he doesn't get sucked into screens to the extent that I can't talk to him, I don't worry about it. I just try to be sure we get outside and get some exercise most days.

post #12 of 18

I have two kids, 13 and 9. They go to school; we have satellite TV (switching to just Netflix/Hulu soon); we use computers/iPad at home (my job is home-based and computer-based; DH brings home his work laptop and iPad). Our kids watch about an hour/1.5 hours on school nights with sporadic computer/iPad use. Homework is done first, both for "regular" school and their cultural school they attend on Saturday, which has a small amount of homework as well. Neither one is particularly into video games. On the weekends it depends, and we often watch something together. The caveats are that they only watch stuff we have DVR'd and have chosen with them or that they have chosen from Netflix - that cuts down on commercials and eliminates channel flipping and shows we don't want them to watch. Also, ever since they were little, we've had a rule that the TV does not get turned on until the afternoon at the earliest; that counts on sick days from school and weekends, too. It works for us. If we saw that they were cutting back on reading and creative stuff, we would change the rules. Right now, though, they can spend a half-day or full-day off from school in creative activities, and DD1 read a book a day over winter break, so we are not concerned.

post #13 of 18
Originally Posted by meemee View Post

i am curious how you do this. 


we have computers at home. i use it a lot for school work. before that i used to bring work home and so worked on it. how could i say no to dd with something that i use so often.


in our defense - we dont watch tv. 


at 9 too dd was using her online math book to do homework instead of lugging a tome home with her. unless of course you home school.

Hello meemee,


I always enjoy your posts.


It's nit-picky of me to mention this, but there is absolutely no need for you to say something like "in our defense". What you do works well for your family, and that is fantastic.  You should be proudly proclaiming what you do.  I know that I shouldn't read too much into the phrase "in our defense", but I am mentioning this simply because I don't want us to degenerate into a mommy-wars kind of discussion when I really just want to applaud both you and all of the other posters for doing what is best for their families.


Our family simply found a different way that works for us.  We just don't have time to watch TV, because there is always seems to be something else that we have to do. We do not home school.  9 y.o. dd goes to a public school and does just fine without using a computer at home. I am friends with the parents of many of my dd's classmates at school and very few of them realize that we even have any restrictions on screen time at all because we keep that aspect of our lives low key even as we enjoy socializing with them.  We have many computers at home, and we parents use computers a lot for work.  I have absolutely no problem saying no to my dd about something that I personally use very often, but then I'm just like that, and it works just fine for our family.


I don't claim that what works for my family would work for other families. In fact, I doubt it would work for almost all families.  But it does work well for at least one family, mine. 


I just didn't want the  original poster to think that limiting screen time to even such a draconian extent is totally impossible for everyone. I'm not trying to convince anyone to try doing what we do in our house, and I definitely don't care who else has how much screen time.  In fact, I don't recommend that other families try to do what we do in our household because what we do in our household is pretty much impractical and not even desirable for almost every household I know of. However,  I can say that it has happened at least once-here in my house. 


The only reason that I even posted was because I wanted to provide ammunition for the original poster in case she didn't feel like changing her current practice.  If she wants to stick with her current limit of 11 hours of screen time per week and her kids think that it is unfair, then she can always point out to her kids that they should be grateful that they don't live in my household.  :D


I get the same moaning that the original poster talks about:  how "horrible it is, having us as parents," and "my friends have so much more...(media, cool cell phone, iPod touch etc.)  time!". However, the complaints are made with a cheerful light-hearted affectionate tone of voice, honestly.  I say no to dd about an awful lot other things too, so dd is used to the concept of me saying no and not budging.  Saying no to screen time is just what she has always known, so it is no big deal in our household.  It is just our family's normal.


Now, I can't guarantee that this won't change in the future.  As a previous poster mentioned, in middle school, the homework probably will change a lot for dd.  If it does, then I will adjust. But I won't just roll over and die. Over the past years, I have been told by all kinds of people (including my in-laws) that my child would not be able to survive the first four years of grade school without screen time, so I might as well just give up on no screen time. To me, it didn't seem like a good reason to give up on trying to achieve what I wanted.  It turns out that I was lucky enough that circumstances allowed me to keep doing what I have been doing.  Clearly, a no screen time policy would not work for your dd because she has to do her math homework online, and that is just fine.  The homework at my dd's school just happens to be done differently, so I took advantage of that.

Edited by emilysmama - 2/22/13 at 11:10am
post #14 of 18

eek e'smama - i meant the term light heartedly.


now that i think of it - since you pointed out how things work for different families - truly my answer is not the right answer. 


because my dd is not glued to technology. that is just not her personality. it is not her interest - her obsession (reading is her obsession and i've had to limit that though) so i really havent been challenged by dd wanting much. so the question of even talking about screen time does not come up in our family. i mean yeah she would love to have stuff - but she knows that's not realistic for our family. instead she is grateful for her friends with whom she spends most of her free time with after homework. some of that free time is spent with technology. but mostly they are out playing. 


now if she was addicted to technology i dont honestly know what i would have done. i am neither for it, nor against it. dd's friends who have the latest gagets and are all plugged in - i dont really see much difference between them and the other not plugged in kids. while dd does mostly unstructured playtime most of the other kids do both. they have some unstructured playtime, some structured and then have their technology. they hike just like we do. they are out in nature a little less than us. but they are equally creative kids - many of whom blow me away with how much they understand of the world. i happen to listen to some of their speeches and its amazing how much they understand nutrition, junk food and art and musical instruments. 


now if you'd asked me this question when dd was younger the decision would be easy. but as i see plugged in 10 year olds (most of whom i've known since they were 5) who've been plugged in most of their school lives - i really see nothing different in them for me to stand up and say OMG. in fact i am actually blown away by their expertise and amount of knowledge. they know strategies and know where to go find them. it amazes me how much of the whole gaming thing is such a social activity. 


my whole idea of what technology does - a typical cliche'd picture - of obese kids with no friends and kinda in a daze (I know exaggerating here) is sooo not real. 

post #15 of 18

Well, if you count her ipod touch time it would be more, but DD (13) typically just listens to music vs. going online. Otherwise our house rule is that she "earns" screen time with reading time. For example, if she reads for an hour, she can be online for an hour. This is outside of homework screen time. On a weekend we may watch a movie as a family that will fall outside the "earned" time, but because she is not a big tv watcher, we feel okay about it. Most of the time she asks to turn off a television if it is on in order to play music.

post #16 of 18
Originally Posted by meemee View Post

eek e'smama - i meant the term light heartedly.



Hi meemee,


I know you did.  I enjoyed your posts.

post #17 of 18
Thread Starter 

Thank you everyone for your posts, they are great for me to read. We are still in flux over here, trying to figure out what "is best for our WHOLE family" raising teens is such a "dance" and we are in high gear here. Screen time is our biggest battle though and I would just get rid of it all together some days.


Thank you!

Kathleen (the original poster!)

post #18 of 18

We don't set firm limits although we do have parental controls on the computer that will log them out after a certain amount of time, but dd1 is 12 and in middle school and she uses her computer for homework, too, so we often give them extra time. She does Power Point presentations, research, and types papers on her computer. She also loves to play Minecraft and watch YouTube videos mostly of people playing Minecraft, Littlest Pet Shop "shows" other kids have created, and lately My Little Pony videos (apparently there is a new comic book and teens are getting into them, both boys and girls). She also likes to watch some music videos — Owl City is her favorite. She also draws manga on her computer and does some story writing on her computer.


Dd2, 9, doesn't need to use her computer for homework, but she does enjoy writing stories on her computer and has completed several and usually has one going. I think her latest is 20+ chapters (probably 1 page chapters, but quite a bit of writing still). She also likes to do some drawing on the computer and likes many of the same things Dd1 does although she is not as into Minecraft or Owl City and more into My Little Pony. 


They both have iPods too that they use for texting and games mainly. They have a bit of music on them, but not that much. They really like audio books. 


If I feel like they've had too much computer time or iPod time I just tell them that's enough and they need to find something else to do. They often want to finish the thing they're doing right then, but after a few minutes are agreeable to shutting it off. I equate it with a healthy diet. All candy or potato chips is not a healthy diet—gotta have some fruits and veggies and protein in there too. 

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