How much screen time does your teenager spend?

Have you ever walked among a group of teenagers at the bus stop, at school or by the playground?
An adult friend of mine, who is not used to going to secondary school, recently had a surprise: the corridor was silent during breaks. It was not because the teachers were strict, nor because the corridors were empty. It was simply that all the young people were in “their own digital worlds”.

The average time teenagers spend in front of screens

Screen time for teenagers has increased by around 30% since 2015, and is now over 8 hours on average for 13-18 year olds (Source). There are some interesting data from these surveys that may surprise or worry us:
● Boys are in front of screens for about an hour more on average than girls (per day). This is most often attributed to time spent playing video games, with boys aged 8-18 years reported to play an average of 2 hours and 41 minutes per day playing video games alone (Source).
● Screen time not devoted to study, school or learning is 7.5 hours per day. (Source)
● There are significant differences between countries in the average screen time among teenagers (e.g. in the UK the average for 14-16 year olds is 4.8 hours per day, in Australia it is 2.75 hours per day).(Source)
● In America, around 50% of teenagers say they feel addicted to smartphones. (Source)
● In Slovenia, the proportion of teenagers in primary school who feel addicted to online pornography is 10%, compared to 15% in secondary school. (Source)

Nature against screens
With the development of technology and smart devices, it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep children and teenagers away from screens and encourage them to spend time in nature. Addictive elements are increasingly attractive and psychologically sophisticated and easily accessible. In principle, we know that outdoor play is crucial for children’s mental and physical development. The problem that many educators are seeing today is that this behaviour is clearly just not present in most families. In fact, it is often observed that parents prioritise the social position of the child, and so the low-income mother uncritically tries to buy her child the most expensive smartphone on the market as quickly as possible. This can quickly lead to poor mental, intellectual and physical development of the child, as outdoor play and screen-free time are essential for the child’s development in these areas.

Benefits of outdoor play
Outdoor play stimulates children’s imagination, creativity, physical activity and motor skill development. It also reduces screen time and allows children to disconnect from the virtual world. Excessive screen use can have a negative impact on children’s mental and physical health, including lack of physical activity and increased risk of obesity. Promoting outdoor play in kindergarten, school and family is essential for children’s healthy development, so it is important to create a routine that includes daily outdoor play, limit screen time and spend time outdoors as a community.

Benjamin Tomažič

Benjamin Tomažič is a professor of computer science, Gestalt counsellor, international exchange leader, sex addiction mentor, mathematics professor, father of six.