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The Unexpected Way to Turn Summer Screen Time into Quality Family Time


45% of young adults aged 18-29 are still living at home with their parents. This is the highest it has been since The Great Depression - USA Today

As summer rolls around, parents of teens and young adults often find themselves facing the challenge of managing screen time.

In an era of vast privilege, where the latest gadgets are readily available, this issue can become particularly pronounced.

However, instead of battling against screen time, what if you could turn it into an opportunity for quality family time?

Here’s a realistic and easy-to-implement strategy that will leave you and your teen feeling connected and engaged.


The Challenge of Summer Screen Time

During the summer, the structure provided by school disappears, and teens often turn to screens for entertainment and social interaction.

This can lead to excessive screen time, which may have negative effects on their physical and mental well-being.

As parents, it’s crucial to find a balance that allows for healthy screen use while also fostering family connections.

The Unexpected Solution: Co-Watching and Discussing Content

Step 1: Choose Content Together

You might be thinking this is silly. Maybe even sad. But connection is connection, and if it means getting time with your child outside of some drama - DO IT.

Start by selecting content that interests both you and your child. This could be a TV series, a movie, a documentary, or even a YouTube channel. The key is to choose something that you both find engaging. Here are some tips for selecting content:

  • Variety: Mix different genres to keep things interesting. You might watch a drama series one week and a nature documentary the next.

  • Educational Value: Look for content that can spark interesting discussions. Documentaries or shows with complex characters and plots can provide great material for conversation.

  • Shared Interests: Consider your teen’s hobbies and interests. If they love cooking, a cooking show might be a hit. If they’re into science, a science documentary could be fascinating.

Step 2: Schedule Regular Viewing Times

Set aside specific times each week for co-watching. This creates a routine and ensures that you both prioritize this activity. It also helps to limit screen time to these designated periods, making it a more intentional and shared experience. Here’s how to make it work:

  • Consistency: Choose days and times that work for both of you and stick to them. This could be a couple of evenings a week or a weekend afternoon.

  • Comfort: Create a cozy viewing environment. Make popcorn, dim the lights, and settle in for a fun and relaxed time together.

Contrary to programs that separate kids from their loved ones, we promote active family involvement. Our approach includes sessions with the entire family to ensure unity and collective progress towards shared objectives.

Step 3: Engage in Post-Viewing Discussion

After watching, take some time to discuss what you’ve seen. This is where the real quality time happens. Engaging in conversations about the content can deepen your connection and provide valuable insights into your teen’s thoughts and feelings. Here are some conversation starters:

  • Plot and Characters: Discuss the storyline and characters. Ask your teen what they liked or didn’t like about the plot. Which characters did they relate to or find interesting?

  • Themes and Messages: Talk about the themes and messages of the content. What lessons or takeaways did they get from it? How do these themes relate to real-life situations?

  • Personal Reflections: Encourage your teen to share their personal reflections. Did the content remind them of any personal experiences? How did it make them feel?

Step 4: Encourage Active Participation

To make the experience even more engaging, encourage your teen to take an active role in the process. This could involve:

  • Choosing Content: Let your teen take turns selecting what you’ll watch. This gives them a sense of ownership and ensures that the content is relevant to their interests.

  • Leading Discussions: Encourage your teen to lead some of the post-viewing discussions. This can help them develop critical thinking and communication skills.

  • Creating Content: If your teen is interested, you could even create your own content together. This could be as simple as recording a video review of what you’ve watched or starting a family blog where you share your thoughts.


To illustrate how this can work in practice, here are some real-life examples:

  • Family Movie Nights: The Johnson family decided to have a weekly movie night. They take turns picking movies and then discuss them over dessert. This has become a cherished family tradition that everyone looks forward to.

  • Documentary Discussions: The Smiths love watching documentaries together. After each viewing, they have lively discussions about the topics covered. This has sparked many interesting conversations and helped them learn more about each other’s perspectives.

  • YouTube Channel Reviews: The Martinez family enjoys watching and reviewing YouTube channels together. They’ve even started their own channel where they share their reviews and recommendations. This has been a fun and creative project that has brought them closer together.


This approach offers several benefits:

  • Strengthened Relationships: Sharing an activity and engaging in meaningful conversations can strengthen your relationship with your teen.

  • Improved Communication: Regular discussions help improve communication skills and encourage open dialogue.

  • Enhanced Critical Thinking: Analyzing and discussing content can enhance critical thinking and analytical skills.

  • Balanced Screen Time: By making screen time a shared and intentional activity, you can help your teen develop a healthier relationship with screens.

Additional Tips for Success

To ensure that this strategy is effective, keep these additional tips in mind:

  • Be Open-Minded: Be willing to watch content that your teen enjoys, even if it’s not your personal preference. This shows that you respect their interests and are willing to meet them halfway.

  • Stay Positive: Focus on the positive aspects of the content and the experience. Avoid turning discussions into lectures or criticisms.

  • Be Patient: It may take some time for your teen to warm up to this idea. Be patient and persistent, and remember that the goal is to create a positive and enjoyable experience.

Final Thoughts

In today’s digital age, screen time is an inevitable part of our lives. Instead of fighting against it, why not turn it into an opportunity for quality family time? By co-watching and discussing content with your teen, you can transform screen time into a meaningful and engaging activity that strengthens your relationship and fosters personal growth.

So, grab some popcorn, settle in, and enjoy the journey of discovering new content and having enriching conversations with your teen. This summer, let screen time be a source of connection and joy for your family.


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