5 Ways to Wean Teens from Screens

5 Ways to Wean Teens from Screens April 24, 2014

I’ve rarely met a parent who claims, “I love how much time my kids spend glued to their phones!”

Fact is, most the research emerging is revealing the more time kids spend communicating through screens, the more difficult it is for them to communicate face-to-face. Many studies show, young people who are clocking in more hours of screen time have less close friends. As one expert puts it, “The result is a decline in intimate friendships. Instead, many young people now derive personal support and affirmation from LIKES and feedback to their postings.”

Isn’t this where Doctor Phil would ask, “Well, how’s that working out for ya?”

With the rise in dangerous social media apps, researchers are taking a closer peek at why some young people are drawn to social media. Some experts are even going as far as to recommend, don’t let young children under 12 have any handheld devices. And once your kids begin using social media, regularly engage in conversations with them about their experiences and set realistic guardrails to help them keep social media safe.

Before we get all riled up, we might want to look at the facts: most young people are following our example. Adults are glued to their own devices.

So how should we respond?

How can we help our kids not become dangerously dependent on screens?


  1. Don’t freak out! Overreaction won’t help here. Parents who take away their kid’s phone are dropping the “nuclear bomb of punishments.” Make sure you have thought through the effectiveness of this ploy… because I think you’ll find you have a few better options… like…
  2. Introduce “No-Tech Tuesday.” We currently do this in our home. No phones (except for homework Q’s), no Internet, no TV… no tech at all. We read, do homework and play games if time permits on Tuesdays. Funny, my oldest daughter, now in college, looks back and wishes we had more evenings than just Tuesday!
  3. Encourage face-to-face activities. Church groups, sports, dance class, clubs… anything where they interact with others face-to-face and learn to get along. Chances are they are going to have to sit in the same room and dialogue with a boss someday. It would be nice if it weren’t a new experience.
  4. Escape civilization on occasion. Go camping, hiking, boating, or dirt biking… somewhere with no cell reception! Get your kids outdoors and interacting with others.
  5. Take your kids on an overseas mission trip or service project. Trips like these can be eye opening. My kids did four years of missions trips in high school and reflect on those experiences as some of the most impactful in their entire life. My oldest daughter felt the same about her trip to Uganda last year. Expand your kids’ worldview; it might make them think twice before they demand the newest iPhone.

So what are you still sitting there staring at your screen for?

Grab your kid and teach him how to throw a Frisbee!


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