Screen Time Guidelines: How to Develop Healthy Habits

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December 13, 2017

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This is great info, thanks for giving me some ideas on how to start a dialogue with my teen!

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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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This webinar is a very helpful eye-opener on the apps that are popular with my students.

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Irene C.

Educator Webinar Attendee

This app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Green Zone.
This app is not safe for students to use unsupervised, but a Green Zone app can serve a positive purpose to help a student to navigate social media and someday build an online brand. Read more below to find out why this app is in the Green Zone.

This app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Gray Zone.
Gray Zone apps often contain lots of private & disappearing messages, and strangers can use this to chat with students. Parents should participate in these apps with students to keep them safe. This zone can be a great place for family time since many of these apps can be entertaining, and let your students express themselves. Read more below to find out why this app is in the Gray Zone.

This app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Red Zone.
Red Zone apps often have lots of anonymous features, adult content, and easy contact with strangers. Supervision is strongly suggested on each of these apps or move your kids to a safer zone. All apps require parental supervision, these apps more than others. Read more below to find out why this app is in the Red Zone or view our list of 100+ Apps to find a safer app with your student.
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This trend is categorized as a Dangerous Social Media Challenge.
Viral challenges encourage students to do dangerous things to garner likes, views, attention, and subscribers. These challenges can be found across several social networks and may encourage students to perform dangerous activities. SmartSocial.com keeps parents updated on these social media challenges before an incident may occur in your community.

Table of Contents

Too much screen time can have a negative impact on teens and tweens. According to a study from State Farm Insurance, 4 hours of daily screen time is linked to a full grade level drop in average GPA. Blue light emitted from electronic screens causes sleep deprivation (which makes us all feel sleepy the next day).

Types of screen time activities

  • Watching T.V.
  • Browsing on a computer
  • Using smartphones and tablets
  • Playing video games

Activities which might strengthen your skills (and help you focus)

  • Reading a real book
  • Playing sports
  • Setting goals/tasks in a journal at the beginning of the day
  • Putting your phone down for at least an hour
  • Journaling

Why do colleges care?

Colleges want to ensure that students are productive with their time. Having negative screen time habits can reflect poorly on your productivity if a college reviews your digital footprint.

Negative screen time activities

  • Complaining/venting online
  • Posting content with the intention of deleting it later
  • Taking screenshots and sharing private content from others
  • Posting questionable photos
  • Creating fake accounts of other people

What could go wrong?


According to an interview in TIME with a professor of psychology at San Diego State University, “today’s super-connected teens may be less happy and less prepared for adulthood than past generations”.

The professor shows that, after 2010, teens who spent more time online were more likely to report mental health issues than those who spent time on non-screen activities.

How to develop positive screen time habits

  • Remind yourself that having a cell phone, tablet, or computer is something to use in moderation
  • Find offline activities that you would be proud to share on your college resume. Spending time on those activities will give you positive content you can post online
  • Prioritize positive offline hobbies, school, social activities, sports, and family time above screen time
  • Get in the habit of following your screen time guidelines and self-regulating your screen time
  • Find activities you can do digitally while still being productive, like:
  • ~~Learning how to program
  • ~~Building an online resume
  • ~~Monitoring your digital footprint
  • Have an open and ongoing discussion with your parents about screen time and new apps you’re using
  • If you experience anything uncomfortable during screen time, tell a trusted adult right away
  • Find an offline hobby that colleges will find interesting, such as:
  • ~~Building model airplanes
  • ~~Playing music
  • ~~Volunteering

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