During the school year, teens on average spend more than 55 hours a week on social media, Internet games and television, far more time than the 35 hours they spend in the classroom weekly. The time spent with electronics can dramatically increase in the summer, which can lead to antisocial behavior, according to the Partnership for a Drug Free Iowa.
"Social media can be a very antisocial experience when it reduces actual time spent in activities with friends and family members," Peter Komendowski, president of the Partnership, said in a press release. "Excess social media and 'screen time' can lead to feelings of loneliness and depression, setting the stage for substance abuse and other high-risk behaviors."
The Partnership urges parents and teens to limit social media, Internet and television time during summer vacation. A recent study found that parental involvement in youth-focused media improves their children's physical health, sleep, school performance and social behavior.
Media literacy is another pro-health strategy. The Iowa Media Literacy Project, created by Douglas Gentile, a child development expert at Iowa State University along with the Partnership's Komendowski, was developed in response to the growing problems of youth substance abuse and risky behavior.
"Media literacy holds great promise because it starts with what they care about - television, Internet, and video games - and shows them the inside view of how they are being influenced by the media without their conscious awareness," Gentile said.