Why screen time quality is important
The quality of screen time matters. For teenagers, good-quality screen time can have benefits in several areas. It can:
- support learning
- prompt imagination and creativity
- improve understanding of real-world issues
- create a sense of belonging and strengthen friendships.
For example, writing a blog, using an app to create music, or filming and editing short movies can develop your child’s communication, creative and problem-solving skills. Engaging with reliable news media can help your child better understand local, national and international issues. Watching a TEDx talk can help your child learn something new. And using social media helps your child connect with friends.
In contrast, poor-quality screen time has very few benefits. For example, your child won’t get much from watching a lot of ‘epic fail’ videos.
It’s a good idea to encourage your child to think about the quality of what they’re watching or playing. You can ask your child why they think something is or isn’t good quality.
Good-quality apps and games for teenagers
The best apps and games help your child learn and develop. Good-quality apps or games for teenagers can:
- encourage creativity – for example, by encouraging teenagers to create content like video clips, animations or comics
- encourage problem-solving – for example, by taking teenagers through the possible results of virtual science experiments
- develop communication skills – for example, by helping teenagers learn other languages, or keep in touch with friends on social media
- develop social skills – for example, by encouraging them to achieve goals as part of a team in a multiplayer game
- reduce teenagers’ stress and boost their wellbeing – for example, by guiding them through mindfulness or relaxation activities
- promote a healthy lifestyle – for example, by helping teenagers stay fit and well with dance or yoga apps.
To get a sense of overall quality, you can also check the following aspects of games and apps:
- Age rating – encourage your child to choose apps and games with suitable age ratings.
- Content – encourage your child to avoid apps and games that promote gambling behaviour, unhealthy eating habits, any kind of violence or other antisocial activities.
- Privacy settings – ask your child to check how apps collect data, and make sure you’re both comfortable with this.
- In-app purchases – talk with your child about handling in-app purchases and disabling one-click payment options.
Good-quality TV programs, movies and YouTube for teenagers
Good-quality TV programs, movies and YouTube for teenagers:
- have positive messages about relationships, family and lifestyle
- have inclusive messages about disability, gender, race and culture
- inspire interest in new topics or improve understanding of real-world issues
- have interesting stories
- are age appropriate
- encourage teenagers to reflect on their own values and experiences.
To get a sense of overall quality, you can also check content, messages and characters, and avoid TV, movies and videos that:
- celebrate violence, bad attitudes, unhealthy eating, gambling or other antisocial activities
- are designed to market or sell things through product placement or merchandise tie-ins
- have mature ideas or story elements.
Online reviews can help you decide whether a movie, app or game is high quality and has educational benefits. Try our movie reviews or reviews on Common Sense Media. Use Australian Classification to find out what different age classifications mean.