Executive Function Tip: Managing Screen Time

Though it’s the end of the school year, social media and screen time still have a major effect on students’ ability to get things done. Chores, family time and even dinnertime can be a struggle for many families, due to teenagers’ resistance to putting their phones away. After all, screens can be very distracting and prevent good time management for many of us!

The thing to remember is this: there is a lot of social pressure among teens to instantly respond to text messages and social media posts. It can be difficult to separate themselves from this live and constantly flowing thread.

In my book, 50 Tips to Help Students Succeed, I make the suggestion that students let their friends know that they will be offline for the next couple of hours. This allows the student to relax and not worry that their friends will feel ignored. This works great for homework time, but also family days and other times when you want your teen to be fully present.

Another option is to show them how to adjust their text messages to show a “read” receipt. This can be done on the iPhone and in app programs like WhatsApp and Viber. This shows the sender that the message has not yet been read, which takes some pressure off of the recipient to reply.  This is a nice solution to use as an adult too!

The key is to be empathetic to the woes of being a teenager, if possible. I can’t imagine navigating the world of teendom WITH the added complexity of phones and social media. It sounds like a nightmare! Providing them with a good excuse to go offline for a while might in fact be a relief, even if your suggestion isn’t met with much enthusiasm at first.

Little by little, change happens!


About the Author Marydee Sklar

Marydee Sklar is the president of Executive Functioning Success and the creator of the Seeing My Time Program®. She is an educator and author of three books on executive functions, as well as a trainer and speaker. Marydee has more than twenty-five years of experience working with students and adults with executive function challenges.

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