Reduce Your Teen's Screen Time With These 5 Free (Or Cheap) Alternatives

We all want our teen/millennial to be healthy and happy and we’re willing to do whatever it takes to help them get there. But things aren't always that simple. Unfortunately, what your teen thinks they need and what they actually need are two completely different things. 

Sometime long ago your teen convinced you that they needed a phone and you didn’t think there was much harm it in. Let’s face it, we all like the ability to get a hold of our child easily and the whole tracking feature on a phone is pretty convenient as well.

But what many of us weren’t prepared for was their obsession with social media. What started off as an innocent way to stay in touch with friends and family, has become an unhealthy addiction.

Here are a few ideas for you to help reduce their screen time by replacing it with other options.

1.       Reading. Once a month or so, take your teen to the local library and pick out some books like we used to do back in the day. Or consider getting them a magazine subscription or letting them pick out a book once a month at Barnes and Nobles or Amazon.

2.       Organize more friend-time. Set aside an evening or so a week where they can have a friend over after school. Offer to pick up the friend and drop them off. More face-to-face social interaction is always a good thing and it helps you to get to know their friends.

3.       Set aside a family night where you play cards and board games. Keep in mind, your 'little' boy or girl, isn't so little anymore so pick games that they will show more interest in and not something designed for an 8-year old. Perhaps allow them to invite a friend over to join as well. Get some snacks out, like a big bowl of popcorn, or perhaps order pizza to help make it even more fun.

4.       Unleash their creativity. Help encourage artwork and crafts. Offer them a sketchbook or a canvas to paint on or perhaps some beads to make some jewelry out of.

5.       Hobbies or volunteer opportunities. Find something that your teen enjoys doing and try to start up a group that enjoys the same thing. Perhaps it’s basketball or mountain biking or maybe a dance class. Also, keep your eye out for volunteer opportunities that would interest your millennial. Getting involved with the community has a lot of great benefits.