Teaching Your Teen About the Long Shelf Life of Social Media

How to Talk to Your Teenager About Their Time Online

On an hourly basis, teens today spend more time on media than they do sleeping.

It might sound crazy, but it's a shocking truth that modern parents need to be aware of. It can be difficult for adults to understand how big of a role the Internet plays in their child's life, especially since most of us didn't grow up surrounded by screens.

The statistic I just shared isn't the only sobering statistic about teen Internet use, either.

How much time do teens spend online every day?

According to Common Sense Media, teens now spend more time consuming a “digital diet” than they do sleeping. That includes watching television, listening to music, interacting on social media, playing video games, and more. When they’ve gotten their digital fill, sleep finally becomes a priority.

On a daily basis, teens spend:

  • 9 hours consuming digital media (7.5 hours parked in front of a screen, with the remaining time spent listening to music)
  • 7 hours sleeping
  • 8 hours on education and academic pursuits
  • 0.7 hours on physical activities

Over the course of a week, that’s 63 hours. Over the course of a year, it’s 3,276 hours, or 136.5 days… and that doesn’t even include homework or online learning courses!

How to help your teenager spend time offline

Overuse of social media and other digital content can be frustrating for parents — of course we want our children to get out and experience the world! At Foundations Counseling we address this issue with adolescents and teens, as well as with their parents.

There are many topics to cover when discussing the pros and cons of social media with your child; I wrote about teens and sexting in another blog, for example.

Of all of those topics, safety should be a top priority. You might not be immediately able to get through to your child about how much time they spend online, but safety is a great place to start the discussion.

Discussing online safety with your teen

When it comes to the Internet and young people, one of the most important messages to convey to your child is that their safety comes first. It’s important to speak with your child about the dangers of online predators, what they should and shouldn’t share online, and more.

And, it’s not just their safety today, but their safety years down the road. Because, as we all know, nothing on the Internet is ever truly deleted. A revealing Facebook post at 14 might actually catch up to them at 24 or 34. If you have your own stories about how social media use negatively impacted your career, personal life, or another area of your life, be sure to share them.

Just remember — talking to your teen about social media and Internet use can be tricky, especially when they live so much of their lives online. To them, your concern can feel like judgment.

We’re here to help you bridge that gap. If you’d like to talk to one of our counselors about your child and his or her online activity, give us a call today!