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5 Truths About Teens and Screens

girl texting on phone

Love to watch TV? Play video games? Text your friends? It isn't easy to get away from these electronic devices -- and, if you're like most teens, you spend a lot of time with them. 

The typical teenager logs more than 7 hours a day and more than 50 hours a week glued to a television, computer, or cell phone, research shows.

No doubt, screen time can be fun. The problem is that too much of it can take a toll on your health and your grades. Think about these five important facts.

1. You Risk Packing on Pounds

In one study, teens who spent the most time in front of a screen had the biggest increase in body fat over time. When you’re staring at the TV or computer, you’re using up the time that you could spend on something active -- like riding your bike or taking a walk. And all those commercials for fast food don't help your waistline, either.

Signs that technology is taking over your life:

  • You miss parties and other events.
  • You stay up late to catch a favorite show.
  • You eat meals in front of the TV or computer.
  • You go to bed with the television on.

What you can do about it:

  • Make plans to see friends regularly.
  • Record shows to watch later so you get a good night's sleep.
  • Eat at the dinner table, away from any screens.
  • Take the TV and computer out of your room.

2. Texting = Tiredness

It's tough enough for most teens to hit the sack at a reasonable hour after homework, sports, and other activities. If you're still texting after lights out, you're probably robbing yourself of even more of the 8 to 10 hours of sleep you need.

Signs that you're texting too much at night:

  • You keep doing so after you've gone to bed.
  • You stay awake waiting for another text.
  • You wake up tired.

What you can do about it:

  • Stash your cell phone outside your bedroom at night.
  • Turn off your phone 30 minutes before you go to bed.
  • Mute your phone and tuck it somewhere in your room where you can't see it.
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