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August 2019

Sleep, Exercise, Screen Time: Help Your Teen Adopt Healthy Habits

Think your teenager is getting enough sleep and exercise? Think again. Only 5% of U.S. teens are meeting these goals, according to a recent study. And researchers found most teens are also falling short on another important recommendation—getting no more than 2 hours of screen time a day. Not meeting these three goals may put kids’ physical and mental health at risk, as well as affect their behavior and academic achievement.  

Teens smiling, ready to do push-ups outdoors

Getting enough sleep and exercise

Experts recommend teens ages 13 to 18 get 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night and log at least 1 hour of physical activity every day. These 2 activities are often interconnected: Being active will also help your teen sleep better. Here’s how to help your kids meet these goals:

  • Encourage your teens to join a sport that interests them. The more they enjoy it, the more likely they are to stick with it.

  • Find activities to do together. Try taking a walk after dinner, going for a bike ride, or trying out a new sport, such as rock climbing, yoga, or marital arts.

  • For a good night’s sleep, set firm rules around screen time before bed. Experts recommend keeping all screens out of kids’ bedrooms and avoiding screen time at least 1 hour before bedtime.

  • Be a good role model. If your kids see you enjoying physical activity, it’s more likely they will, too. The same goes for getting enough shut-eye.

Keeping screen time healthy

Time spent in front of a screen is mostly sedentary and often solitary. This can lead to problems with physical and emotional health. Here are some ways to keep your teen’s screen time in check:

  • Make mealtimes screen-free. Ban cell phones from the table and keep the TV off.

  • Share some screen time together. Use the opportunity to discuss difficult topics that arise in a movie or TV show.

  • Set limits on how much time your teen spends in front of a screen and stick to them.

  • Follow the rules yourself. You’re an important role model and your kids will learn by your behavior.  

Online Medical Reviewer: McDonough, Brian, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 5/1/2019
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