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Ways to wean teens from screens

“U.S. teens use screens more than seven hours a day on average — and that’s not including school work,” announced CNN Health Oct. 19.

The majority of screen hours are spent “media multitasking,” meaning teens are using more than one medium at a time, such as watching television and scrolling through social media simultaneously, informed in June.

For many parents, screen time limits for teens are non-existent or were drastically relaxed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, Dr. Jean Moorjani, a pediatrician at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Florida, said too much screen time leads to health issues such as depression and obesity. Parents should create a family media plan, she advised.

“It’s a privilege, not a right, to have these devices,” said Moorjani. “Before these devices are given, parents can establish a contract … boundaries. The plan can include things like all phones get charged in the same place, no phones in the bedroom room at night, no phones at meal times. And, parents need to model the behavior.”

Further, Moorjani said parents might determine “context and content” regarding tablets, computers, televisions and phones.

“What are goals for your children?” she posed, “To spend time outside, be active, be creative, be interactive, get enough sleep? If all are those things are met, then the leftover time can be screen time.”

But instead of just telling teens to put down phones and go outside or find something else to do, Moorjani explained, offering specific options and ideas helps distract teens from screens.

Offered “Also, make it clear that the privilege of screen time can be taken away at any time. Teach your teen to do homework and chores first, before he turns on the TV or plays on the computer.”

“More information about establishing an American Academy of Pediatrics-suggested Media Plan are available at,” added Moorjani.