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Teen Screen Time Addiction: 6 Ways to Curb Your Teen’s Obsession

If you're feeling frustrated and overwhelmed by your teenager's excessive screen time, and you've tried setting limits but they still seem glued to their devices, you’re not alone. This week, CK & GK respond to a listener’s question about curbing screen time for teens in a follow-up to episode 111 about screen time for adults.

Teen Screen Time Addiction: 6 Ways to Curb Your Teen’s Obsession

As middle school teachers by trade, Caitlin and Jenny have firsthand experience with teens and screens. With over a decade of experience working closely with teenagers, they bring lots of practical insights and strategies to the table.

This episode equips parents with the information and tools necessary to tackle the issue of teen screen time.

  • Explore the benefits and drawbacks of smartphones for teens.

  • Discover effective strategies for promoting healthy screen time habits in your teen.

Table of Contents

6 Tips to Curb Your Teen's Screen Time Obsession

  1. Resist the rush to get a smartphone! Consider other devices that facilitate communication without all of the bells and whistles.

  2. Set boundaries and expectations, and then enforce them consistently. You are the parent, and you are in charge.

  3. Create a space for open and honest communication. Allow them to share their feelings about smartphones and social media, and get their input on the expectations you set.

  4. Model moderation. Yes, you're the adult, but your teenager knows hypocrisy when they see it. You can't expect your teen to go along with "family phone rules" if you don't follow them yourself...

  5. Promote—and participate in—alternative activities. Remember face-to-face conversations? Or going to the mall as a kid? Those experiences are important. Here's info about teens looking to encourage more authentic connections.

  6. Join in by embracing what your teenagers love about screens. Send memes, funny videos, and just general kind and fun messages to connect with your teen.

Promoting Healthy Screen Time Habits

We discussed the importance of guiding teenagers towards healthy screen time habits. The negative impact of excessive screen time on teenagers' academic, physical, and mental health, including exposure to inappropriate content and cyberbullying, makes this more important than ever.

Managing Teen Smartphone Usage

Parents need to set clear boundaries and promote moderation in screen use.

  • Set time limits

  • Establish device-free zones

  • Promote healthy alternatives to screen time activities

  • Spot-check your teen’s social media use, but don’t lurk

  • Ensure open communication between yourself and your teenagers about screen time expectations and the reasons behind these rules

Setting Fair Smartphone Expectations

Teens have a very real sense of fairness. We encourage you to make family rules about smartphone use by getting your teen’s input when it comes to setting expectations around smartphone use.

Doing so creates shared ownership of these rules. And, just as importantly, when it’s time to enforce them, you can hold your teen accountable by referring to their input.

We also believe that it’s important to hold everyone—adults included—accountable to the family rules. You’ll get less pushback!

Here’s what that means for parents:

  • YES, create time limits and device-free zones, and adhere to the limits yourself to show your teen that you mean business.

  • YES, promote alternative activities outside of screen time, and engage in those activities yourself to boost your credibility.

  • YES, have conversations about your teen’s smartphone and social media use, and explain why you’re using your phone, too.


Helpful resources and tools for parents to manage their teens' screen time:

Apps that promote mindful social media use or screen time tracking:

  • OneSec

  • ClearSpace

Additional Resources for Parents:

As always, thanks for reading and for supporting our show!



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