3 Ways to Make Screen Time Productive for Kids

Sep 11, 2016

Making screen time productive for teenagers is tough. But, let’s be honest you're not going to take away their cell phone. We threaten, we yell, we even actually take the phone sometimes, but we also live in a digital age. Just like our cell phones are literally lifelines for us, they’ve become that way for our children too. So, here’s to faking it until you make it. Meaning, stop acting like the cell phone is your worst enemy. We all know that the more you try to force your teen away from something, the more they’re drawn toward it.

Rather than try to force my oldest son to stop looking up boobs on the Internet, I’m enlisting a different strategy. Along with using the Net Nanny app for parental control, I’m thinking the key is to get him to organically (and slowly, but surely) decrease the amount of unproductive screen time he engages in. Here’s how I’m going to do that.

Send him unproductive and then productive info

My son loves anime. Specifically, he likes Naruto. I’m on a mission to find out when the new shows are up on YouTube. Since I know he likes the show I want to watch it and send it to him before he watches it himself. It’s hard to get into your teenager’s brain, but not so hard to get into their world.. {link to Net Nanny} In terms of what they like and don’t like, most teenagers are an open book. This is an area where you can build up mommy brownie points. Once your kid is used to you sending them stuff they like, with seemingly no motive, you can begin to send them just about anything. I actually tried this last year for one week and it worked. My son and I both follow a really funny comedian on YouTube and so I started sending him the video. By Friday I started sending him motivational speeches and I was shockingly surprised that he was actually watching them. (Remember to do this sparingly. You don’t want to blow your cover.)

Send them on Digital Scavenger Hunts

If you’re daughter wants a new dress, challenge her to find it on-sale using an app like Flipp or just simply locating the sales ad. If your kid is helping you with a project. Ask them to look up a how-to video. The problem in America is not with cell phone usage. The problem is that so many people utilize their cellphones for mundane stupidity and inappropriate content. Your job as mom (or dad) is to show your child how to use their digital device as a tool, rather than a toy.

Give them useful apps

I recently did an article on Brown Mamas of must-have apps for moms. After writing the article, I realized that many of those apps would be great for my teenager too. My son wants a new air-soft gun. The first one I purchased for him I found using the Flipp app that aggregates all of your local sales papers in one space. I told him to set up an alert in Flipp to find out when the one he wants will go on sale. There are tons of apps out there and many of them are great for teenagers. You can find a list of them on BrownMamas.com.

Coupling all these tips with the Net Nanny app will ensure that your kid is not only protected from inappropriate content, but the he/she is also gaining useful information and experiences from their screen-time. Bottom-line, cell phones are here to stay. Rather than creating a wedge between you and your kid, bridge the gap.