Average Screen Time For Teenagers in 2024

Average Screen Time For Teenagers in 2024

Do you have a teenager who seems to be glued to their mobile phone 24/7? You may be wondering, "Is this normal teen behavior?" and, "How can I stop my teenager from getting too much daily screen time?"

As teenage parents, these are common concerns, and we promise you aren't the only parent wondering if those tiny little devices are somehow hindering their development.

Our parents were concerned about whether they let us watch TV too often—welcome to the modern-day version of that problem. We'll share some information on the average screen time for teenagers and a few tips for making sure your kids put down their devices every now and then and spend time in the real world, too.

What is The Average Screen Time For a Teenager in 2024?

As we move into 2024 there may actually be good news on the horizon when it comes to how much time our teenagers are spending on their screens. Currently, more than half of US teens spend an average of 7 hours and 22 minutes of daily screen time. Considering the amount of sleep teenagers need, that's almost HALF of their waking hours.

But all hope isn't lost. We're finally seeing a decrease in the average screen time for teens for the first time, well—ever. After almost a decade of increases in daily screen time and then a giant spike during the COVID-19 pandemic, we're finally beginning to see a downward trend in how much time teenagers spend on their phones and other devices.

Stats on Screen Time For Teenagers in 2023

A 2023 Gallup survey focusing on the social media habits of US teens provided some eye-opening statistics. Over half of the teens surveyed reported spending at least four hours a day on various social media platforms. These platforms include popular ones like YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and X (formerly known as Twitter). When averaged out, this time adds up to about 4.8 hours each day.

Social media Breakdown

The study showed that teenagers spend the majority of their online time watching videos—with almost 2 hours per day spent on YouTube and another 1.5 on TikTok, a popular video platform among Gen Z teens. Add in the almost 3 hours per day that teens spend playing video games, and that takes up a significant portion of their day.

Age and Gender Differences

The data also showed that the average time spent on social media varied between age groups, with the time increasing with age. Another interesting finding was the difference in usage between genders. Teenage girls spend nearly an hour more on social media compared to teenage boys, averaging 5.3 hours and 4.4 hours, respectively.

Trends Over Time

As you would likely expect with the rise of new social media platforms and access to digital technology, the average screen time for teenagers has increased year over year for almost a decade.

In 2015, American teens aged 13 to 18 averaged about 6 hours and 40 minutes of screen time each day. And this was just the beginning of an upward trend. By 2019, this average had increased to 7 hours and 22 minutes daily.

However, the most significant change occurred in 2021, when the average screen time increased to 8 hours and 39 minutes per day; an increase of nearly two hours since 2015.

COVID-19 and the Effects on Screen Time

The COVID-19 pandemic played a significant role in this increase. School closures, social distancing, and the cancelation of extracurricular activities meant that we all had much more time on our hands, which resulted in a substantial shift in screen time patterns among children and adolescents (and parents, too).

A systematic review by JAMA Pediatrics, an international peer-reviewed pediatric journal, which included data from 29,017 young people, provided more insights into how COVID affected screen usage. The research showed an average increase in screen time of 84 minutes per day, or 52%, during the pandemic.

The rise was even more significant among those aged 12 to 18 years. This age group saw an average increase of 110 minutes per day, mostly on handheld devices and personal computers.

Factors Influencing Screen Time

The amount of time teenagers spend on screens is influenced by a number of factors that can provide some insight into the changes we're seeing.

Online Education

Advancements in technology and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in significant shifts towards digital learning. This transition means students spend more time on computers and tablets for their studies.

Additionally, the internet has become a major source of educational resources. This accessibility encourages students to spend additional time online, researching and learning beyond the classroom. This has it's pros and cons, and whether or not you're for or against the shift to digital learning, it's undoubtedly made a significant contribution to the amount of time kids spend on their devices.

Social Media Engagement

Social media serves as a primary means of communication and connection for teenagers. Staying updated and connected with friends and peers often leads to frequent and prolonged use. The rise of various social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook has led to increased screen time. Each platform offers unique content, keeping teens engaged for extended periods.

Rise of Innovative Alternatives

There are two primary factors that may be contributing to the recent decrease in screen time. The first is the rise in parental control and screen time monitoring software. Devices like Gryphon Wifi routers, as one example, give families tools to monitor and limit time on certain devices or sites. Additionally, Apple and other smartphone makers have increased parental controls and screen time limit settings that provide parents with opportunities to help create guardrails around devices.

The second trend, while not specific to teens, is the rise in popularity among smartphone alternatives (for example the Cosmo Smartwatch). While kid-focused alternatives like this are aimed at younger audiences and may not provide a solution for teens, devices like wearable phones have advantages that help families start slower and delay smartphone usage.

By focusing on essential communication tools like calling, texting, and voice messaging, a kids smartwatch provides the necessary connectivity without the typical screen time pitfalls. Plus, features like a pedometer and activity goals promote a healthier lifestyle, balancing recreational screen time with physical activity.

Ultimately, safe devices like this can help lead to more positive, healthy habits early and, ultimately, less screen time addiction later on.

Effects of Too Much Screen Time

Excessive screen time can have several adverse effects on teenagers, impacting everything from their mental health to their performance at school.

Sleep Disruption

The bright lights from screens can reduce the production of melatonin, a chemical that helps the body fall and stay asleep. Teens may stay up later interacting with their devices, leading to poor sleep quality, which can weaken the immune system, making teens more susceptible to illness.

Sleep is critical for brain functions like concentration, learning, and memory. During sleep, the brain stores what it has learned during the day, which is vital for recalling information during tests. Without adequate sleep, learning and memory may become affected, which may in turn have negative affects on teenagers' school work.

Mental Health Concerns

There is a growing concern that excessive scrolling and texting may negatively impact emotional and mental health. Studies have shown a link between high levels of screen time and increased symptoms of depression. Some teens may use screens to deal with stress and feel anxious without their devices, indicating a dependency on screen time for emotional regulation.

Physical Health Issues

Prolonged screen time can lead to eye strain and dry eyes, which are uncomfortable and can impact vision health. More concerning, though, is the suggestion that too much time spent on devices may cause physical changes in the brain. The Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development study indicated that kids who use screens more than seven hours a day had a thinner cortex, which is crucial for processing information.

Academic Performance

Too much time video chatting, playing games online, or scrolling social media can affect a teen's ability to concentrate and focus, directly impacting their school performance. Excessive screen use may lead some teens to neglect their responsibilities, including academic tasks.

Social Media and Gaming vs. Educational Screen Time

The debate about whether kids are getting too much screen time is becoming increasingly relevant, especially when you compare the impacts of social media and gaming to educational screen time.

Social media, gaming, and other activities tend to to dominate the screen time landscape for teenagers, taking up a majority of their free time. The constant stream of new content and interactive features on social media platforms can easily engage teens for extended periods.

On the other end of the spectrum is educational screen time. This includes activities like e-learning, computer use for research purposes, and using educational apps, which are generally considered to be more beneficial and less addictive. Educational screen time can contribute positively to a teen's learning and skill development.

It tends to be more structured and goal-oriented, which naturally limits the time spent and reduces the risk of addiction. Unlike the endless scroll of social media or the infinite levels in games, educational activities usually have a defined end point or objective.

This contrast emphasizes the importance of not just monitoring the amount of screen time your child gets, but also considering the quality and purpose of the time spent on screens. The key is finding a balance that allows teens to enjoy the benefits of digital technology without falling into the dangers of overuse and addiction.

Anticipated Changes in Screen Time for Teenagers in 2024

As we continue into 2024, there's promising potential that the approach to screen time, especially among teenagers, will become more conscious and deliberate. The COVID-19 pandemic brought about a significant increase in screen time due to lockdowns and remote schooling, but as we adjust to a post-pandemic world, we're starting to see a shift. Teens are now able to interact more in physical settings, reducing the reliance on digital devices for education and socialization.

Parental Awareness is Key

Another factor contributing to the anticipated decrease in screen time is the increased awareness and education among pediatricians, educators, and parents. With more information available on the impacts of excessive recreational screen time, parents are becoming more proactive in setting boundaries and encouraging other forms of engagement.

A Rise in Alternative Options

Devices like the Cosmo Smartwatch are playing a significant role in this shift. By offering a more controlled and focused use of technology, smartwatches provide the benefits of connectivity without the addictive elements of smartphones and tablets.

As we look towards the future, there's a hopeful anticipation that screen time will continue to decrease, or at least become more balanced and intentional. With the combination of post-COVID lifestyle changes, increased parental awareness, and the rise of smart technology alternatives, teenagers are more likely to engage with screens in a way that benefits their growth and development without compromising their physical and mental health.

How to Reduce The Amount of Time Teens Spend on Devices

Reducing the average screen time for teenagers is a challenge that many parents faced, and it requires a thoughtful approach. It's about creating a balance that allows teens to enjoy the benefits of digital devices while also fostering healthy habits and ensuring they spend time in other enriching activities.

Here are some strategies to help limit and balance screen time:

  • Promote Non-Digital Activities: Encourage teens to engage in outdoor sports, reading, or hobbies. These activities not only provide a break from screens but also contribute to their physical and mental wellbeing.
  • Use Alternative Devices: Devices like the Cosmo kids texting watch can be instrumental in limiting screen time. They offer essential communication tools like texting without the addictive elements of traditional smartphones, making it easier for teens to disconnect.
  • Set Screen-Free Times: Establish specific times during the day when screens are off-limits, such as during meal times or before bed. This helps create a routine and sets clear guidelines for screen use.
  • Create a Screen Time Plan: Help your teen set boundaries when it comes to screen time. Together, create a plan that outlines how much time they can spend on devices daily and what types of screen activities are allowed. The key is to involve them in the decision-making process, so they feel more responsible for their own screen time.
  • Be a Good Example: Adults should also be mindful of their screen time, too. By setting a good example and showing a balanced approach to device use, parents can guide their children in creating their own good habits.

Managing the average screen time for teenagers is about finding the right balance. It involves setting boundaries, being a good example as adults, and providing alternatives that keep them engaged and active. With a collaborative approach and the right mindset, it's possible to foster a healthy digital lifestyle for teens.

Is Excessive Screen Time Causing Digital Addiction?

It's no secret that teens love their screens. But when we see our kids glued to their devices, it's normal to wonder if it's too much. Could these devices actually be causing addiction?

Although screens are a huge part of our lives now, it's something we should keep an eye on when it comes to our children. After all, life's not just about what's on the screen; it's about family, friends, and the world around us.

As time goes on, we're learning more about balancing screen time, and tech like the Cosmo Smartwatch is helping us out. It lets our teens stay connected without overdoing it. It's all about finding that sweet spot—enough screen time to enjoy and learn, but not so much that it takes over.

Let's help our kids enjoy their screens, sure, but let's also help them enjoy life beyond the screen.