Parent, Children & RelationshipsTeens, Social Isolation & Screentime

Teens, Social Isolation & Screentime

10 April 2023

uHub Therapy Centre - Bangor

As parents we want the best for our children, and we can spend a huge proportion of our time worrying about what they are doing especially when it comes to screen time and shutting themselves away in their bedroom.  

Louise Logan

Louise Logan

Counsellor @ uHub Therapy Centre

We are fearful that they are talking to the wrong people, being bullied or generally wasting their time when they should be out and about meeting friends face to face.  


It's hard to understand


Our children are growing up in a different world from the one we did and as parents our experiences of teenage years are not comparable to society today.  20-30 years ago we communicated mostly in person, nowadays social interaction is available at the touch of a button without geographical constraints.  

Screen-based activities such as watching TV, gaming or using social media form a big part of our children’s lives.  On average a young person can spend between 2-8 hours a day on screens.  

This can be both beneficial but also concerning, especially if they spend a lot of time alone, in their rooms, and don't tend to seek out activities outside the home.  So, how do we as parents get an insight into what our children are doing in their bedrooms? How do we get them out into the real world?


Take an interest or get involved 


As a parent, educating yourself about how your child spends their free time, will help open the door to better communication.  Taking an interest in their social media platforms, games and what they watch will help you gain an understanding of what your child gets out of their screen time will help you manage your expectations or concerns.

I spoke to one parent who decided that in order to get a better understanding of what her son was doing when he was gaming, she chilled in his room, having some screen time of her own, while he gamed. What she saw surprised her, and she realised that her son had to use and develop a range of communication and social skills to be able to play the game successfully. Far from causing him to be socially isolated, he was communicating effectively with his friends, managing different opinions, navigating disagreements, practising leadership & problem solving skills whilst having a great deal of fun. Together they were working towards a common goal as efficiently as possible and it was obvious it was a great bonding moment for them all. She became less worried about the time he spent gaming, he became more open to chatting about his screen time activities and didn't feel like it was something he had to hide because "Mum doesn't understand".

There are different reasons why our children are online, and whilst we often look at them scrolling through their phones and immediately assume that they are wasting time, this is not always the case. The internet can be a great source of information, inspiration and of course social interaction if used correctly. 

If you can gain some insight and engage in some way with the content they are consuming you'll learn more about their online interests which may lead to great conversations with learning opportunities for both the parent and the teen. Teenagers long to be understood, and being open to the content they consume can become a moment of bonding. It opens the door to chats about around interests, boundaries, privacy, balance and safety online. 


We all need privacy


Is it because of the accessibility to social media platforms that causes us to worry when our children are spending time alone in their bedroom?  If so, it’s important to take a minute to remember that children, especially teenagers, need their own space and privacy.  Trust is the key.  Keeping the lines of communication open, alongside educating our children on the dangers of social media is vital. However, so is the recognition that they need privacy and space to think freely and develop their own personalities.


Balance is important


While we cannot remove devices and social media from our children’s lives, we can support them by encouraging them to get involved in clubs, develop hobbies, take up sport or get a part time job. This will help balance their screen time alongside face to face interactions with others. Knowing about their online interests can be a great start in guiding them to other real world activities that might be of benefit to their overall development and wellbeing.

The other important thing to remember is that some teenagers don’t want or have interest in face to face activities and may be content with more solitary or online activities. Some may be content with a few close online friends and others may be longing for more connection. Everyone is different.

If you are concerned about the time your child is spending alone in their bedroom, have a think about what you can do to better understand them and support them to have that balance in their lives. 

Remember that their world is different from yours.  Respecting their journey will encourage open honest dialogue.

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uHub is a counselling service with a multi-disciplinary approach to emotional health and well-being. We provide a safe and confidential environment where feelings can be explored. We work from an integrated approach, psychodynamic/person centred which we tailor to meet the needs of each individual so they can get the best possible service and experience from their counselling.

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