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Making Screen Time Fun While Reducing the Negative Impact

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Unlock this lesson to learn what you can do to keep kids safe on screen time

In this guide, parents & educators will learn:

  • What is the difference between active and passive screen time
  • The negative consequences of excessive screen time
  • Productive ways to use screen time in a positive way

Learn why parents and educators should care about screen time

Log in or join the VIP membership today to view all SmartSocial.com resources about screen time!

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Full Replay - Making Screen Time Fun While Reducing the Negative Impact

Screen time issues are becoming an increasingly pervasive challenge. We live in a digital world, and there’s no getting away from screen time completely, but we can help teens to enjoy their screen time while reducing the negative impact it may have on them.

Students have a plethora of opportunities for learning, socialization, and entertainment available to them, but it is important to teach them how to choose activities that benefit them rather than tear them down.

Educators and parents:Guide your students' reflection and discussion with this student worksheet. (Log in to your Google account and select File-->Make a Copy)

Educators: Implement this in your classroom using our facilitation guide. (Log in to your Google account and select File-->Make a Copy)

How to Evaluate the Quality of Your Screen Time

  • How do you feel after your screen time?
  • Does that app/activity make you feel stronger or weaker after 1 hour?
  • What screen time activities/apps make you feel stronger?
  • What activities make you feel more focused and relaxed?

Negative Consequences of Excessive Screen Time

  • Sleep problems - Too much screen time can make it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep
  • Lower grades - Screen time can distract you and impact your focus, causing you to get lower grades
  • Less social - Filling too much of your day with screens can take away from time with friends and family members
  • Poor health -  Replacing physical activity with screen time can decrease your overall health and cause weight problems
  • Mood problems - Studies have shown that excessive screen time can impact your mood and sometimes lead to anxiety and depression
  • Body image issues -  Excessive social media use can lead to body image issues due to comparing yourself with others

How can positive screen time help you be productive?

Active screen time helps you accomplish your goals

  • Learn a language
  • Teach yourself programming
  • Become the best player on your team
  • Learn how to cook delicious new recipes
  • Explore digital art and design
  • Use programs like GarageBand to create music tracks
  • Virtually travel the world with tools like Google Earth or YouTube travel videos
  • Listen to podcasts about something you are interested in

Use Screen Time to Learn Important Skills

  • Be mindful about who you subscribe to so your feed is filled with fun and productive tips that help you improve
  • Learn how to master a skill you are interested in
  • Explore new hobbies and find out what you need to do to get started
  • Discover creative projects and science experiments
  • Teach yourself how to 3D print and learn what tools you need
  • Learn what you need to do to get into your dream college

Positive Things you can Learn on YouTube

  • Travel the world through virtual museum tours
  • Watch tutorials to learn how to create projects
  • Understand your math homework by watching videos showing how to solve a math problem step-by-step
  • Watch videos of science experiments and then try them with a trusted adult
  • Watch documentaries about interesting events
  • Learn to draw by following along with drawing videos

Positive Things you can Learn on Instagram

  • Creativity - There are some great Instagram Reels that share how to do creative projects or hobbies
  • Photography - Using Instagram to share photos? Use it as a chance to improve your photography skills
  • Graphic design - Watch tutorials on Instagram that share tips for your favorite graphics software
  • Public speaking - If you (and your parents) decide you are comfortable sharing Reels, it can be a great opportunity to work on public speaking skills
  • Time management - As with any addictive platform, understanding when to set limits is an important life skill
  • Activism - Following Instagrammers who are passionate about something you are interested in can help you learn how to advocate for those causes yourself

Strategies to Reduce Screen Time

  • Set a timer
  • Schedule blocks of time for passive screen time and avoid it outside of those times
  • Ask a friend or family member to help keep you accountable
  • Use reminders in your apps and devices to tell you when it is time to log off
  • Use screen time apps to help you reach your screen time goals

Tools to Reduce Screen Time

  • Opal -  Opal blocks distracting websites and apps so you can focus
  • ClearSpace - ClearSpace is free to use for one app (you can add more with the paid version)
  • Freedom - Plan screen time schedules or set up limits for your current screen time session
  • Off the Grid  - Lock your phone down to take a break. You’ll be charged $1+ (or have to watch a video ad) to access your phone before your set time is over  
  • SelfControl - This app lets you block your own access to distracting websites. You set a time period and won’t be able to access them until the timer expires, even if you restart your computer or delete the app
  • Forest - The Forest app has you “plant a tree” that slowly gets bigger the longer you stay away from distracting apps

How to Make Screen Time More Productive

Do you want to learn a skill or practice a hobby? Use your screen time to help you improve in areas you are working on. No matter what you are interested in, there is probably a way to replace some of your passive screen time with something more active.

  • Piano: Apps like Simply Piano or Yousician
  • Coding: Platforms like Codecademy or LeetCode
  • Baseball: VR training apps or analysis tools
  • Debate: Online forums or debate clubs on platforms like Zoom
  • Languages: Duolingo, Rosetta Stone
  • 3D Printing: Use YouTube to learn how to use Tinkercad and Cura to print objects

Manage Your Weekly Screen Time with this Printable Weekly Screen Time Schedule

Scheduling blocks of time when screen time is acceptable can help you avoid distractions at other times of the day. Download this weekly screen time schedule. Shade in the times when non-school screen time is allowed. Consider having a different schedule for weekdays and weekends.

Use this together with our Family Media Agreement to set clear boundaries regarding screen time use at home.

More resources for parents, students, & educators

Conclusion

Navigating screen time issues today is a huge challenge but finding balance is possible. There are definitely many negative consequences for excessive screen time, but in moderation, screen time offers many opportunities for teens to learn and develop their talents. By starting early, teens can set themselves up for a lifetime of balanced screen time use and reduce the potential negative impact.

Full Replay - Making Screen Time Fun While Reducing the Negative Impact

Screen Time Struggles (For Students, Parents & Educators)

Questions to prompt discussion with students:

Parents and Teachers: View the full VIP Facilitation Guide Here

Elementary School Students (SEL Questions):

Importance of Community and Responsibility

  • Why do you think having a cell phone can help someone feel safer and more connected to family and friends?

Knowing When to Stop

  • Have you ever found it hard to stop playing a game or watching videos on a device?

Finding Screen Time Balance

  • How can you use your device to stay connected with loved ones while also focusing on your schoolwork and other responsibilities?

Family Rules

  • How can parents and guardians help you manage your screen time so that it doesn't interfere with your other responsibilities or activities?

Middle School Students (SEL Questions):

Staying in Touch

  • Does your cell phone or device help you feel more connected with family and friends?

A Tool to Help Others

  • Can you describe a situation where you used your device to help someone or solve a problem? 

The FOMO Effect

  • How does the fear of missing out (FOMO) affect your screen time habits or decision making?

Finding Balance

  • How can you strike a balance between online and offline activities to maintain your well-being?

High School Students (SEL Questions):

Family Rules vs. Independence

  • How can parents and teenagers work together to establish healthy rules and expectations for cell phone usage?

Struggles with Cell Phones

  • What apps on your phone are the hardest to walk away from? 

Age and Responsibility

  • Do you feel like you’re able to use your phone or other devices more responsibly as a high schooler than when you were younger?

Respecting Differences

  • How can you support friends who may have different rules or experiences with cell phones?

More resources for parents, students, & educators

Conclusion

Navigating screen time issues today is a huge challenge but finding balance is possible. There are definitely many negative consequences for excessive screen time, but in moderation, screen time offers many opportunities for teens to learn and develop their talents. By starting early, teens can set themselves up for a lifetime of balanced screen time use and reduce the potential negative impact.

Screen Time Struggles (For Students, Parents & Educators)

Negative Experiences with Cell Phones (For Students, Parents & Educators)

Questions to prompt discussion with students:

Parents and Teachers: View the full VIP Facilitation Guide Here

Elementary School Students (SEL Questions):

 Cell Phones for Safety

  • Do you feel safer having a cell phone in case of an emergency? 

How Much is Too Much?

  • How can you make sure the time you spend on your phone doesn’t get in the way of schoolwork? 

Cyberbullying

  • What should you do if you see someone being unkind to others online? 

Addictive Apps

  • Are there apps or games that you sometimes feel like you can’t stop using?

Middle School Students (SEL Questions):

Cell Phones and Socializing

  • Have you ever noticed someone who can’t enjoy other people’s company because they’re always on their phone? 

Cyberbullying

  • What kinds of comments or posts online do you consider to be cyberbullying? 

Family Rules

  • Do you ever get frustrated with limitations your family sets around cell phones?

Addictive Apps

  • How do you manage the time you spend on apps that are hard to put down?

High School Students (SEL Questions):

Tuning Out

  • Some parents don’t allow phones at the table because it interferes with family time. Have you ever had a friend who’s always on the phone when other people are trying to enjoy time together? 

Stuck on Social Media

  • Have you ever been so caught up in following social-media feeds—or watching to see how people respond to yours—that it’s taking away from other things you want to focus on? 

Cyberbullying

  • Have you ever seen posts or comments online that you consider to be cyberbullying? 

Taking a Break

  • If you’ve ever gone a day or more without your phone, how did it feel?

More resources for parents, students, & educators

Conclusion

Navigating screen time issues today is a huge challenge but finding balance is possible. There are definitely many negative consequences for excessive screen time, but in moderation, screen time offers many opportunities for teens to learn and develop their talents. By starting early, teens can set themselves up for a lifetime of balanced screen time use and reduce the potential negative impact.

Negative Experiences with Cell Phones (For Students, Parents & Educators)

Family Rules for Cell Phones (For Students, Parents & Educators)

Questions to prompt discussion with students:

Parents and Teachers: View the full VIP Facilitation Guide Here

Elementary School Students (SEL Questions):

Cell Phone Responsibility

  • What do you think is a good age for someone to have their first cell phone? 

Family Rules and Cooperation 

  • Which rule that your family has about cell phones makes the most sense to you? 

Self Regulation around Cell Phones

  • Aside from any rules your family has, what are some ways you have found to make yourself put your phone away when it’s distracting you from other responsibilities? 

Respecting Differences

  • Imagine a friend who has different rules for screen time than you do. How can you be understanding and supportive of their situation, even if it's different from yours?

Middle School Students (SEL Questions):

Cell Phone Use and Independence

  • What age do you believe is appropriate for someone to have their first cell phone? 

Parents Rules and Communication

  • How can parents and teenagers collaborate to establish fair and healthy rules and expectations for cell-phone use? 

Different Approaches to Screen Time

  • If some of your friends’ families are more restrictive than yours about screen time, how can you make sure they don’t feel left out? 

Self Regulation

  • Aside from any rules your family has, what are some ways you have found to make yourself put your phone away when it’s distracting you from other responsibilities?

High School Students (SEL Questions):

Self Regulation

  • Aside from any rules your family has, what are some ways you have found to help yourself put your phone away when it’s distracting you from other responsibilities? 

Staying Accountable

  • One student mentioned her parents’ requirement that she always respond to their texts. Is your phone an important way you communicate with your parents or guardians?

Keeping up with Family

  • When you communicate with your family by phone, text, Facetime or even just following them on social media, do you feel like it brings you closer than if you didn’t have a cell phone?

Building Trust

  • In what ways do your parents trust you more to manage your own screen time than when you were younger?

More resources for parents, students, & educators

Conclusion

Navigating screen time issues today is a huge challenge but finding balance is possible. There are definitely many negative consequences for excessive screen time, but in moderation, screen time offers many opportunities for teens to learn and develop their talents. By starting early, teens can set themselves up for a lifetime of balanced screen time use and reduce the potential negative impact.

Family Rules for Cell Phones (For Students, Parents & Educators)

Productive Ways to Use Screen Time in a Positive Way (For Students, Parents & Educators)

Questions to prompt discussion with students:

Parents and Teachers: View the full VIP Facilitation Guide Here

Elementary School Students (SEL Questions):

Setting Positive Goals

  • What are some positive and fun activities you can do online that can also help you learn new things?

Role Models and Inspiration

  • How did Michael and Emma use screen time in a positive way? 

Balancing Screen Time

  • Why is it important to balance screen time with other activities? 

Reflecting on Screen Time

  • How do you feel after spending time on your favorite apps?

Middle School Students (SEL Questions):

Screen Time Balance

  • What challenges do you face in achieving balance between screen time and other activities in your life?

Learning from Others

  • How did the stories of Michael, who learned to code and became the youngest engineer ever hired at Facebook,  and Emma, who started a Log Off movement to help kids avoid overdoing it with screen time, inspire you? 

Skill Development

  • What skills or interests could you explore online that might benefit you in the future?

Responsible Online Behavior

  • What steps can you take if you encounter something uncomfortable or unsafe online?

High School Students (SEL Questions):

Setting Goals for the Future

  • How can productive screen time activities contribute to your long-term goals, such as college or career aspirations? 

Self-Reflection and Balance

  • How can you maintain a healthy balance between your online and offline life?

Advocacy and Social Impact

  • Reflect on the idea of activism mentioned in the video. How can you use your online presence to advocate for causes you care about?

Self-Care and Well-Being

  • What strategies can help you maintain a healthy relationship with technology?

More resources for parents, students, & educators

Conclusion

Navigating screen time issues today is a huge challenge but finding balance is possible. There are definitely many negative consequences for excessive screen time, but in moderation, screen time offers many opportunities for teens to learn and develop their talents. By starting early, teens can set themselves up for a lifetime of balanced screen time use and reduce the potential negative impact.

Productive Ways to Use Screen Time in a Positive Way (For Students, Parents & Educators)

Tools and Strategies to Reduce Screen Time (For Students, Parents & Educators)

Questions to prompt discussion with students:

Parents and Teachers: View the full VIP Facilitation Guide Here

Elementary School Students (SEL Questions):

Identifying Feelings

  • Can you think of a time when being  on your phone made you feel less happy or less energetic?

Responsible Use

  • How can we use screen time tools and strategies to make our online experiences more positive and balanced?

Time Management

  • How can setting timers and schedules help us manage screen time better? 

Middle School Students (SEL Questions):

Reflecting on Screen Time Impact

  • Have you ever experienced negative effects of excessive screen time, such as difficulty sleeping or lower grades? 

Productive Screen Time

  • What are some productive apps or online resources mentioned in the video that could help you learn new skills? 

Balancing Relaxation and Productivity

  • The video discusses using screen time tools like ClearSpace. How can these tools help you relax on social media while staying focused and avoiding excessive usage?

High School Students (SEL Questions):

Accountability and Self-Control

  • The video mentions apps like Freedom and Off the Grid. How can these apps help you maintain self-control and reduce screen time? 

Learning Through Technology

  • The video suggests using apps for learning new skills. Can you share your experiences using educational apps or online resources to acquire new knowledge or hobbies?

Balance and Well-Being

  • How can balancing screen time contribute to your overall well-being, including physical and mental health? 

More resources for parents, students, & educators

Conclusion

Navigating screen time issues today is a huge challenge but finding balance is possible. There are definitely many negative consequences for excessive screen time, but in moderation, screen time offers many opportunities for teens to learn and develop their talents. By starting early, teens can set themselves up for a lifetime of balanced screen time use and reduce the potential negative impact.

Tools and Strategies to Reduce Screen Time (For Students, Parents & Educators)

What Is The Negative Impact Excessive Screen Time Can Have On Teens? (For Parents & Educators)

Questions to prompt discussion with students:

Parents and Teachers: View the full VIP Facilitation Guide Here

Parents of Elementary School Students (SEL Questions):

Signs of Screen Time Problems

  • What are some signs that your kid might be struggling with screen time?

Balancing Screen Time with Physical Activity

  • How can you encourage your child to trade some of their online time for time spent instead engaging in healthy physical activities?

Quality Sleep

  • How can you ensure your child’s phone or other devices don’t interfere with their sleep?

Parents of Middle School Students (SEL Questions):

Signs of Problematic Use

  • What are some signs you’ve noticed in the way or amount your child uses screen time that seem unhealthy?

Reasons to Cut Back

  • How could you open a conversation with your child about the negative impact of excessive screen time, especially when it’s passive?

Encouraging Active Screen Time

  • What are some areas that interest your child where they might find a positive resource or tool online to increase active screen time?

Parents of High School Students (SEL Questions):

Knowing the Signs

  • What are some signs your child might be undermining their mental/physical health and productivity by spending too much time online?

Encouraging Active Screen Time

  • What are some ways to help your kid engage in more active (rather than passive) screen time activities, like those discussed in the video?

Learning to Disengage from Devices

  • What are some ways you could encourage your student to be involved with more in-person activities that help them stay engaged instead of getting lost in their devices? 

More resources for parents, students, & educators

Conclusion

Navigating screen time issues today is a huge challenge but finding balance is possible. There are definitely many negative consequences for excessive screen time, but in moderation, screen time offers many opportunities for teens to learn and develop their talents. By starting early, teens can set themselves up for a lifetime of balanced screen time use and reduce the potential negative impact.

What Is The Negative Impact Excessive Screen Time Can Have On Teens? (For Parents & Educators)

How to Reduce the Amount of Negative Screen Time (For Parents & Educators)

Questions to prompt discussion with students:

Parents and Teachers: View the full VIP Facilitation Guide Here

Parents of Elementary School Students (SEL Questions):

Setting Healthy Limits

  • What rules, limits, or even apps do you think might work for your child and your family to keep screen time down to healthy limits?

Developing Healthy Habits

  • How can you start an open dialogue with your child now about the pitfalls of negative screen time to help them develop healthy habits as they mature?

What If My Child is Introverted?

  • If you have a shy or introverted child, what are some ways you can help them find in-person activities that fit their comfort level and provide healthy alternatives to screen time?

Parents of Middle School Students (SEL Questions):

Learning to Take Breaks

  • How do you think your child would react if asked to put their phone away for a day or two, maybe on a family vacation?

Screen Time Rules

  • How much screen time do you think is healthy for your child at his/her age, and do you have family rules to keep your child from overdoing it?

Screen Time Addiction

  • In what ways can overuse of a phone or other device resemble addiction?

Parents of High School Students (SEL Questions):

Identifying Goals

  • What are some things you’d like to see your student dedicate more time to if they reduced the amount of time they spent on devices?

Recognizing Problematic Usage

  • If you have seen indicators or behaviors in your high schooler that you believe suggest problematic screen time usage, how can you address these concerns openly?

Sharing Insights

  • If you had to share one key insight or piece of advice from the video with another parent, what would it be? 

More resources for parents, students, & educators

Conclusion

Navigating screen time issues today is a huge challenge but finding balance is possible. There are definitely many negative consequences for excessive screen time, but in moderation, screen time offers many opportunities for teens to learn and develop their talents. By starting early, teens can set themselves up for a lifetime of balanced screen time use and reduce the potential negative impact.

How to Reduce the Amount of Negative Screen Time (For Parents & Educators)

How Can Parents Transition Their Children From Passive to Active Screen Time? (For Parents & Educators)

Questions for Parents to Consider:

Parents and Teachers: View the full VIP Facilitation Guide Here

Parents of Elementary School Students (SEL Questions):

Make Screen Time Shared Time

  • What are some creative things you could do along with your child online to help encourage active screen time?

Ask Questions

  • How can you engage with your child about their favorite online activities in order to get a better idea of how much of their screen time is active vs. passive?

Explaining Active Screen Time

  • How can you explain to your child at his/her age the difference between mindless games/videos/scrolling and more productive online activities?

Parents of Middle School Students (SEL Questions):

Mining Your Student’s Interests

  • Are there specific activities or interests your student might want to pursue where you could help them find “active” apps or instruction online?

Role Modeling

  • As parents, how can you model productive screen time and active engagement to inspire your middle schooler to follow suit?

Beyond Time Limits

  • How can you set boundaries with your student not only to help them minimize passive screen time but also avoid inappropriate content?

Parents of High School Students (SEL Questions):

Addictive Apps

  • What are some passive screen time activities you’d like to see your student do less of?

Positive Online Tools

  • How can you encourage your student to get involved in online groups that promote causes they care about or make videos that help them learn the power of positive messaging?

Mindful Screen Time

  • If you’re concerned your child is over-engaging in social media scrolls or mindless online activities, how can you get them thinking about better uses of their time? 

More resources for parents, students, & educators

Conclusion

Navigating screen time issues today is a huge challenge but finding balance is possible. There are definitely many negative consequences for excessive screen time, but in moderation, screen time offers many opportunities for teens to learn and develop their talents. By starting early, teens can set themselves up for a lifetime of balanced screen time use and reduce the potential negative impact.

How Can Parents Transition Their Children From Passive to Active Screen Time? (For Parents & Educators)

Making Screen Time Fun While Reducing the Negative Impact

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Enjoy this resource and share our programs with your school district to send these resources to your whole community
Tell Your School District About Our Program
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Share this resource with a parent at .
Copy Share Link
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Enjoy this demo pass. Click the button to share access with leaders in your school district
Share Your Demo Pass With School District Leaders

Screen time issues are becoming an increasingly pervasive challenge. We live in a digital world, and there’s no getting away from screen time completely, but we can help teens to enjoy their screen time while reducing the negative impact it may have on them.

Students have a plethora of opportunities for learning, socialization, and entertainment available to them, but it is important to teach them how to choose activities that benefit them rather than tear them down.

Educators and parents: Guide your students' reflection and discussion with this student worksheet. (Log in to your Google account and select File-->Make a Copy)

Educators: Implement this in your classroom using our facilitation guide. (Log in to your Google account and select File-->Make a Copy)

Watch the Full Replay - Making Screen Time Fun While Reducing the Negative Impact

How to Evaluate the Quality of Your Screen Time

  • How do you feel after your screen time?
  • Does that app/activity make you feel stronger or weaker after 1 hour?
  • What screen time activities/apps make you feel stronger? 
  • What activities make you feel more focused and relaxed?

Screen Time Struggles - Student Video

Questions to prompt discussion with students:

1. Topic: The FOMO effect

How does the fear of missing out (FOMO) affect your screen time habits or decision making?

2. Topic: Family rules vs. independence:

How can parents and teenagers work together to establish healthy rules and expectations for cell phone usage?

3. Topic: More resources

Click here to access guides to this video, more discussion prompts, and videos on this and related topics

Negative Experiences with Cell Phones - Student Video

Questions to prompt discussion with students:

1. Topic: Cyberbullying

What kinds of comments or posts online do you consider to be cyberbullying?

2. Topic: Taking a break

If you’ve ever gone a day or more without your phone, how did it feel

3. Topic: Find More Resources

Click here to access guides to this video, more discussion prompts, and videos on this and related topics

Family Rules for Cell Phones - Student Video

Questions to prompt discussion with students:

1. Topic: Self Regulation

Aside from the rules the family has, what are some ways students have found to help themselves put their phone away when it's too distracting?

2. Topic: Building trust

In what ways do your parents trust you more to manage your own screen time than when you were younger?

3. Topic: Find More Resources

Click here to access guides to this video, more discussion prompts, and videos on this and related topics

Negative Consequences of Excessive Screen Time

  • Sleep problems - Too much screen time can make it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep
  • Lower grades - Screen time can distract you and impact your focus, causing you to get lower grades
  • Less social - Filling too much of your day with screens can take away from time with friends and family members
  • Poor health -  Replacing physical activity with screen time can decrease your overall health and cause weight problems
  • Mood problems - Studies have shown that excessive screen time can impact your mood and sometimes lead to anxiety and depression
  • Body image issues -  Excessive social media use can lead to body image issues due to comparing yourself with others

Productive Ways to Use Screen Time in a Positive Way (Parent, Student, & Educator Training Video)

Questions to prompt discussion with students:

1. Topic: Screen Time Balance

What challenges do you face in achieving balance between screen time and other activities in your life?

2. Topic: Screen Time Impact

Which activities on your phone leave you feeling focused and energized, and which ones might leave you feeling distracted?

3. Topic: Find More Resources

Click here to access guides to this video, more discussion prompts, and videos on this and related topics

How can positive screen time help you be productive?

Active screen time helps you accomplish your goals

  • Learn a language
  • Teach yourself programming
  • Become the best player on your team
  • Learn how to cook delicious new recipes
  • Explore digital art and design
  • Use programs like GarageBand to create music tracks
  • Virtually travel the world with tools like Google Earth or YouTube travel videos
  • Listen to podcasts about something you are interested in

Tools and Strategies to Reduce Screen Time

Questions to prompt discussion with students:

1. Topic: Balancing Relaxation and Productivity

The video discusses using screen time tools like ClearSpace. How can these tools help you relax on social media while staying focused and avoiding excessive usage?

2. Topic: Balance and Well-Being

How can balancing screen time contribute to your overall well-being?

3. Topic: Find More Resources

Click here to access guides to this video, more discussion prompts, and videos on this and related topics

Use Screen Time to Learn Important Skills 

  • Be mindful about who you subscribe to so your feed is filled with fun and productive tips that help you improve
  • Learn how to master a skill you are interested in
  • Explore new hobbies and find out what you need to do to get started
  • Discover creative projects and science experiments
  • Teach yourself how to 3D print and learn what tools you need
  • Learn what you need to do to get into your dream college

Positive Things you can Learn on YouTube 

  • Travel the world through virtual museum tours 
  • Watch tutorials to learn how to create projects
  • Understand your math homework by watching videos showing how to solve a math problem step-by-step 
  • Watch videos of science experiments and then try them with a trusted adult
  • Watch documentaries about interesting events 
  • Learn to draw by following along with drawing videos

Positive Things you can Learn on Instagram

  • Creativity - There are some great Instagram Reels that share how to do creative projects or hobbies
  • Photography - Using Instagram to share photos? Use it as a chance to improve your photography skills
  • Graphic design - Watch tutorials on Instagram that share tips for your favorite graphics software
  • Public speaking - If you (and your parents) decide you are comfortable sharing Reels, it can be a great opportunity to work on public speaking skills
  • Time management - As with any addictive platform, understanding when to set limits is an important life skill
  • Activism - Following Instagrammers who are passionate about something you are interested in can help you learn how to advocate for those causes yourself 

Strategies to Reduce Screen Time 

  • Set a timer
  • Schedule blocks of time for passive screen time and avoid it outside of those times
  • Ask a friend or family member to help keep you accountable
  • Use reminders in your apps and devices to tell you when it is time to log off
  • Use screen time apps to help you reach your screen time goals

Tools to Reduce Screen Time 

  • Opal -  Opal blocks distracting websites and apps so you can focus
  • ClearSpace - ClearSpace is free to use for one app (you can add more with the paid version)
  • Freedom - Plan screen time schedules or set up limits for your current screen time session
  • Off the Grid  - Lock your phone down to take a break. You’ll be charged $1+ (or have to watch a video ad) to access your phone before your set time is over  
  • SelfControl - This app lets you block your own access to distracting websites. You set a time period and won’t be able to access them until the timer expires, even if you restart your computer or delete the app
  • Forest - The Forest app has you “plant a tree” that slowly gets bigger the longer you stay away from distracting apps

What is the negative impact excessive screen time can have on teens? (Expert Video)

Questions to prompt discussion with students:

1. Topic: Passive vs. Active Screen Time

How engaged do you feel when you use different apps on your phone?

2. Topic: Phone Anxiety

How would you feel if you left your phone at home by mistake?

3. Topic: Find More Resources

Click here to access guides to this video, more discussion prompts, and videos on this and related topics

How to Reduce the Amount of Negative Screen Time (Expert Video)

Questions to prompt discussion with students:

1. Topic: Addictive Behavior

What are some signs your friends might be overusing cell phones/games?

2. Topic: Family Discussions

What would you tell a parent about how to discuss their student's screen-time use so their student's might listen?

3. Topic: Find More Resources

Click here to access guides to this video, more discussion prompts, and videos on this and related topics

How can parents transition their children from passive to active screen time? (Expert Video)

Questions to prompt discussion with students:

1. Topic: Disturbing Content

What disturbing content have you and your friends have seen in social media that you think would surprise most parents?

2.. Topic: Getting Creative

What is a skill you might like to learn or practice—and what apps / YouTube videos might help?

3. Topic: Find More Resources

Click here to access guides to this video, more discussion prompts, and videos on this and related topics

How to Make Screen Time More Productive

Do you want to learn a skill or practice a hobby? Use your screen time to help you improve in areas you are working on. No matter what you are interested in, there is probably a way to replace some of your passive screen time with something more active. 

  • Piano: Apps like Simply Piano or Yousician
  • Coding: Platforms like Codecademy or LeetCode
  • Baseball: VR training apps or analysis tools
  • Debate: Online forums or debate clubs on platforms like Zoom
  • Languages: Duolingo, Rosetta Stone
  • 3D Printing: Use YouTube to learn how to use Tinkercad and Cura to print objects

Manage Your Weekly Screen Time with this Printable Weekly Screen Time Schedule

Scheduling blocks of time when screen time is acceptable can help you avoid distractions at other times of the day. Download this weekly screen time schedule. Shade in the times when non-school screen time is allowed. Consider having a different schedule for weekdays and weekends.

Use this together with our Family Media Agreement to set clear boundaries regarding screen time use at home.

More resources for parents, students, & educators 

Conclusion

Navigating screen time issues today is a huge challenge but finding balance is possible. There are definitely many negative consequences for excessive screen time, but in moderation, screen time offers many opportunities for teens to learn and develop their talents. By starting early, teens can set themselves up for a lifetime of balanced screen time use and reduce the potential negative impact.

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In this guide, parents & educators will learn:

  • What is the difference between active and passive screen time
  • The negative consequences of excessive screen time
  • Productive ways to use screen time in a positive way

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Josh's presentation about social media was unbelievably fantastic. Our students learned so much about what kids should and shouldn't be doing. The fact that it is such a thoughtful process made it all worthwhile.

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