How We’re Managing Screen Obsession: Parenting Tweens + Teens

Screen time. It’s a part of all of our lives. As adults, we use our screens for almost everything these days – organization, communication, planning, work, connecting with others, and more.

Many of us didn’t grow up with a screen in our faces but now, it’s our reality. It’s a major part of all of our lives, including our children’s. Interactive gaming, communication with friends, and even schooling are all on the screen for my middle schooler. He has a phone, an iPad, a gaming laptop, and full access to a television.


Did we set ourselves up for his screen obsession? Yes!

Naysayers, please weigh in here because I take full credit and responsibility for my son’s obsession with the screen.

Now, I’m in a position of backpedaling and finding balance, while also recognizing that the screen is a part of our lives.

I definitely didn’t grow up with a screen. My first cell phone was in a bag in my car {yes, really}. Our family computer was an Apple IIGS {IYKYK}, I still had typing class on a typewriter in middle school, I didn’t have my first official email address until my freshman year of college, and my first smartphone came along when I was nearing the age of 30. Oh – and the original Nintendo gaming system wasn’t allowed in my home, but all of my neighbors had it. Sleepovers were spent trying to pass level one of Super Mario Brothers and playing Duck Hunt until 2 am. 

My point is this – my son and I are navigating this new world of screens together. And to be candid, I’m finding that it’s not all bad. It’s just a very tricky balance that we are constantly trying to perfect and get right.

Here are 10 ways we are approaching the screen in our home, and what we are learning:

  1. The screen is social. Online schooling and pandemic living took away social opportunities. The screen created them. For this, I am honestly thankful. My son loves being with his friends, and peer interaction is so very important at this age. He loves to pop on his headphone and dive into an interactive world with his buddies.
  2. The screen needs limits. This one is hard. It causes drama. My son works hard at school and puts in 100% effort with his extra-curricular activities. The screen is downtime for him, and we all need downtime – even kids! Setting limits with this has been a game of trial and error. As my son grows, so do his responsibilities and his privileges. The game of limits requires frequent fine-tuning and lots of discussions in our home.
  3. The screen offers educational opportunities. During the height of the pandemic, my son taught himself how to code. He hopped on YouTube, took some tutorials, and was able to learn to create his own online world. When he went back to school in person, his teacher was beyond impressed with his abilities. It’s turned into more than a hobby for him – he’s now taken classes at school, and obtained a summer camp scholarship to further his interests and abilities. Coding is something he is interested in doing for his future career, and it’s a screen activity that we absolutely encourage in our home.
  4. Put the screen in a common area of the home. He’s a teen. We can put all the monitors in the world on our devices, but the unsavory will find a way in. Put the screen in a common area and monitor what’s going on while your child is engaged. TALK to your child about the dangers and temptations that the screen offers – predators, pornography, the whole nine yards! Is it uncomfortable? Of course! Do it anyway.
  5. Be consistent. I fail here. Often. It’s easier after a long day to let my kids sit on the screen longer than they should. Sometimes I’m tired and crave quiet. But consistency is key. Try, try again if you find yourself failing in this area.
  6. Find your own balance. What works in your home doesn’t necessarily work for others. You know your child best. Find the balance that works for your, your child, and your lifestyle.
  7. You are the parent; you are in charge. I don’t know how many times I’ve had to tell myself this since becoming a parent. If you need to hear it, too, here ya go! You’re in charge; you set the limits; it’s your home and you’re the adult. You’re welcome 😉
  8. Take an interest. My son loves to share things he’s created online or funny memes that he finds. Do I always care? No. But I do care about him, and he wants to share the things he is doing with me. I know it won’t always be like that, so I’ll listen as long as he is offering!
  9. Play together. I stink at all online gaming, but I created a Roblox account. I’m terrible and it’s actually really funny. My son thinks it’s the best thing ever, and we laugh until we cry. Play the screen together – you won’t regret the time you spend with one another.
  10. Encourage but don’t mandate balance. This depends on the personality of your child. My son responds best to me when I adopt an encouraging, rather than demanding approach. If I demand, he shuts down and shuts me out of his hearing. I don’t want to demand that he read or play a board game, because I don’t want to paint either of those activities as “punishments”. Instead, I try to encourage options and screen time balance.

Do you have screen time issues in your home? Share what works for you! If you have a topic you’d like to see in our Parenting Tweens and Teens Series, please send us a message as well! We plan to share more topics that relate to this tricky area of parenting, and would love your input!

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Welcome! I'm Courtney, Founder, and Co-Owner of Mid-Michigan Moms. I started this journey years ago, looking to connect women in their motherhood journeys with one another through sharing our collective stories. In my mom life, I wear many hats - swim mom, hockey mom, horseback riding mom, and more. Our family of five is busy, chaotic, and loud. We're also silly, kind, and a lot of fun. I challenged myself over three years ago to push past every possible fear and comfort zone to grow as a mom, and as a person. Starting Mid-Michigan Moms and being a part of leading this team has been an integral part of that journey. Our small blog has turned into a wonderful parenting resource, and I'm so proud of our amazing team! Welcome - I'm so glad you're here!