Should Teens Spend Their Free Time With Screen Time?


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Screen time continues to be a major topic of debate among doctors as new research finds teens spending most of their free time on electronic devices.

Franc Romanowski, Contributor

There are many different activities teens could be doing in their free time. They could be riding a bike, playing ball or doing chores. Instead, most teens choose to spend much of their free time in front of a screen.


The CDC recommends that teens should only spend 1-2 hours in front of a screen per day. However, they found that teens spend an average of 7.5-9+ hours or more a day on a screen for entertainment purposes. This does not include the additional time spent doing homework.


One contributing factor that hasn’t helped reduce the amount of time spent on screens is the pandemic. It has promoted an increase in screen time as many people transferred over to remote work and schooling. It also kept everyone inside, and with electronic devices being the ultimate source of entertainment, many found themselves reaching for them.


So is screen time bad for your health? There have been multiple studies regarding screen time and its effects on the human body, but these results have continued to come into question by doctors as they debate how much screen time is okay and what effects it has on the physical and mental health of humans. Some doctors believe that poor physical and mental health is related to screen time, but others aren’t quite sure.


“Although there are negative associations between screen time and poor mental health, sleep and fitness, we cannot be sure that these links are casual, or if other factors are causing both negative health outcomes and higher screen time,” said Max Davie, RCPCH Officer for Health Promotion.


Many doctors agree that more research and data will be needed to better understand how much time teens should spend in front of a screen and the relationship it has with their overall health, but it’s very likely that poor health is related to the amount of time spent looking at a screen.


So how can teens spend their free time without looking at a device? Here’s a list of 10 things that teens could do that don’t involve a screen.


  1. Explore the world
  2. Play a sport/board game
  3. Spend time with family
  4. Pick up a new hobby
  5. Work/Volunteer
  6. Exercise
  7. Read/Write
  8. Solve a puzzle/problem
  9. Do homework
  10. Visit local businesses that offer activities of enjoyment


When you look at your device, you miss views like this. Take a screen break and go see the world! (Casper Moller/Creative commons/Flickr)

With today’s ever changing, fast paced world, it’s easy to plug in and get lost in the world of electronics. It’s understandable that you can’t just move away from an electronic life, but take the time and opportunity when you get the chance to do so. Talk to your family, reflect on the day, find something that you enjoy not involving screens.


As Dr. Sholas, a pediatric physical rehabilitation physician, put it, “screen time is like sugar. You shouldn’t cut it all the way out because there is a need and purpose for it. But what if you get too much?”


Always remember that there is a world surrounding you waiting to be discovered, waiting for doors to be unlocked. When you look at your phone or computer, you miss truly amazing things. Take a screen break, go outside, take in and discover the world. You may be surprised at what a simple screen break could do for you as a whole.