How can parents encourage teens to balance online and offline activities?


Experts Andy Robertson and Dr. Elizabeth Milovidov discuss the importance of helping teens balance online and offline activities.

See their tips to help young people make the most of their downtime.

Three teens use a tablet while spending time outside, combining online and offline activities.

Andy Robertson

Freelance Family Technology Expert
Expert Website

How do I get my teen on board with conversations about balance?

The key to supporting teenagers in this evolving social world is to value both online and offline activities. Both these interactions are as real and valuable as each other.

In both online and offline areas, it can help to find ways to interact in various ways. Of course, offline interactions are more familiar and feel safer, but parents and guardians have a key role in guiding online interactions as well.

What are some positive ways to promote balance online and offline?

Video game interactions can offer a less confrontational space than social media because the shared play and video game world create a sense of mission and camaraderie.

Games like Sea of Thieves, for example, encourage teens to take on ambitious missions with friends and communicate clearly to complete them.

Other games, like Farm Together, offer ways to mark out what is shared space and what is restricted. This can help set boundaries.

Finally, there are many games that can inspire interest or aspiration in a real-world social activity. This list of Video Games About Gardening is a great place to start, but you can find games about any theme you are interested in developing.

Explore Internet Matters’ guide to skill-building apps for more ideas.

Dr Elizabeth Milovidov, JD

Law Professor and Digital Parenting Expert
Expert Website

Why is it important for teens to balance online and offline activities?

Socialising online and offline offers teens the opportunity to stay connected and to enjoy so many rites of passage that teens around the world experience.

But, like everything, too much of a good thing can have unexpected effects. As such, teens should find balance in both online activities and offline activities to support positive wellbeing.

How can parents promote this balance?

Parents can support their teens by offering ideas on balance and wellbeing while also leading by example.

Some ideas for parents to try:

  • Set aside time for being online and offline
  • Have your teen work out for themselves what is too much, or too little
  • Offer fun activities to do when online and offline – keep it fair, so that your teens will be just as excited for the offline activities as for the online (and vice-versa.)
  • Consider turning off notifications for social media apps
  • Make a game out of monitoring phone use
  • Ask your teen for ideas, interests and opinions.

And as always, keep those conversations going.