Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Is 9 hours a Day of Media Too Much for Your Teen?

As a mother of teens, I know how much teens rely on media for their entertainment, down time and socializing.  It is the basis of their relationships, source of leisure and a way to make choices about the adult they are trying to become. But 9 hours a day seems like way too much. In reality, I wouldn't want to see anyone doing anything for 9 hours a day except maybe getting a good night's sleep for that much time (which teens or adults do not do).

By the way the 9 hours of media use was just for enjoyment and no homework was involved. To really get in the 9 hours, teens tend to multitask.  This means they check and engage in social media, online reading and video games while they are living the rest of their lives.  Homework, meals, real in person socializing and driving all get to share time with media.

Teens will insist that this multitasking doesn't affect them at all.  Yet, studies have shown otherwise.  Those who engage in media multitasking performed worse on tests of cognitive control and have an altered approach to fundamental information processing.  Another study found that teens who text compulsively are more likely to have trouble sleeping and lower academic performance. Compulsive texters also have overall lower grade performance.  Teens have been shown to be addicted to the media use and act irrationally about monitoring their use another study shows.

As a parent, I find this whole situation frustrating.  No matter how many articles and statistics that I could quote to my children, they really don't care or believe them.  Further, I sometimes feel that I am in the minority for even caring about the excessive media use.  According to my daughter, I am the only parent that cares or tries to limit use(the joys of adolescent parenting!).

Besides my motherly intuition, my Ayurvedic learning has taught me the necessity of keeping grounded with a good sleep schedule and time for destressing (meditation is preferable).  And, no, Ayurveda is not a convincing argument to teenagers either in case you were wondering.

Parental involvement is the best way to help teenagers navigate healthy media use according to the experts.  So do not get discouraged, parents do help even if your teen says otherwise.  It is okay to limit use by restricting use during meal times and having a curfew.  Moreover, keep asking questions about texts and interactions that seem to make your teen agitated.  As an Orthodox Jew who keeps the Sabbath, I have one day a week that my children have to be unplugged from their devices.  It is heavenly.  We eat and talk without rushing for the phone or computer.  The teens (and all of us) sleep more and read books and play board games.  The kids even seem happier.  I would hope the experience of no media would encourage them to do it voluntarily. It does not, but I know that it still affects them on a conscious level, and at some point in their lives they will remember it.

Life is too precious and short to constantly be plugged in. Live that mantra and others around you will see it too.

Stay healthy & well,


  1. If this amount does not include their homework, it means that it's surely too much! I would rather say that this even sounds unrealistic!

  2. The kids even seem happier. I would hope the experience of no media would encourage them to do it voluntarily.

  3. Teens are very influenced by the media, so it is necessary to teach them to understand these manipulations and limit the time of working with the media.