It’s time to give teens more screen time

Teens should be allowed to have more screen time to socialise during the coronavirus pandemic, a psychologist says.

Socialising has become difficult during the pandemic, with adults turning to technology for catch-ups with friends.

The teenage years are a time when friendships are particularly important, however the lockdown means there is no longer the opportunity to visit friends’ houses, catch-up at the shops or park or play sport.

For many, it also means no school.

Clinical psychologist Dr Aliza Werner-Seidler, from the Black Dog Institute, says socialising with friends is an incredibly important aspect of children’s lives, especially for teenagers, and should be encouraged.

She says special allowances could be given to teens so that they can socialise with their friends digitally, as long as they abide by some rules.

“Social media and sensationalised news outlets and commentary is probably not the best thing for them to be spending time on at the moment as it can be full of incorrect information and increase anxiety around the Coronavirus outbreak,” she says.

“And of course, we want them to be getting a good night’s sleep so they need to switch off at a reasonable hour. But allowing teens to chat online with their friends over this time is incredibly important and parents should be encouraging them to do so.”

Dr Aliza says allowing them lots of contact with each other will help teens process and support each other in what is proving to be an anxious and stressful time.

“Their routines are drastically changing so maintaining existing connections is one way of keeping some sense of normalcy,” she says.

“It’s also important to focus on their interests and see if they can adapt them for an online experience.

“If they enjoy playing guitar, encourage them to do it online with their friends and learn new songs that way.”