screen free social life for 15 y.o. boy

After getting to a very scary and dark place last spring with screen addiction, depression and a lot of anger -  our son has been outside and off screens all summer and it feels like we have our kid back.  We know that once school starts we are going to have to be wise about how maintain the progress.  I would appreciate hearing from families that have advice on how to foster a screen free social life for a 15 year old boy.  Anything you have seen work would be great to hear about. Thanks

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Both my kids are just super active in their respective sports/performing arts and dont have timr for screens even if they wanted to. My son is on swimteam and martial arts and has chinese school on saturdays. Ive also put all their devices on a separate network, blocked them from the main one and it turns off the wifi + blocks apps such as you tube etc. I use mycircle app to manage this. I think if you can get him active in things his passionate abojt thats half the battle of screentime.

We haven’t managed to get to “screen free”. Instead we limit the time. No gaming on school nights, password locked computer and auto shut off on the computer when he does play, auto shut off on his laptop and phone, confiscating his phone for a week at a time if there is a major breaking of rules. He does exercise quite a bit too, which helps with balancing out time on screens. It’s not as good as screen free but giving that his school work is 100% on a laptop and that much of teen communication is by phone, it’s the best we’ve come up with. 

The only way we have been able to manage this in my family is by taking total control of the screens. May be more than you want to do but it has eliminated the depression, anxiety, and hostility we were formerly living with.

1. Phone gets handed to kid on his way out the door to school (no headphones included).
2. Phone gets handed back in to parents upon return from school. Arguments that phone is needed for academic or social purposes in the evening are ignored. It has been SO BAD for our kid to have evenings on his phone we have concluded not having it available in evenings is, by far, the lesser evil.  Also, he had a 4.0 last year despite his protests that he couldn't possibly get the group projects done without his phone in the evenings.
3. Computer is handed to kid for homework after school and is used only in highly trafficked area of house, never in bedroom, basement, etc. No games or social media is allowed on computer on weekdays. Homework only.
4. Computer is returned to parents when homework is done or by 10:00pm.
5. On weekends, assuming no weekday rules have been broken, kid gets 2 hours of game time each day on computer and 3 hours of phone time. Two hours of each weekend day also must be something outside–go for a walk, go to the Y, play basketball in the park.
6. If kid goes to a friend's house, nothing I can do about it. I assume it will be 8 straight hours of screens. I try to at least require he walk to the friend's house if it's within 2 miles so he gets a bit of fresh air.

Implementing this plan involved a week of screaming, crying, glaring, hateful commentary on our parenting, and then, having realized we aren't negotiating, he gave in and we have our child and our lives back. Your mileage may vary.

My son is 15 years old too, and he successfully leads a screen-free life. I think it helps that we’ve always been a household w minimal screens: It may be more difficult for a kid who grew up differently. Anyway, my son spends a lot of time on sports & physical activity: He plays on his high school basketball team and also on the baseball team; similarly (especially before the pandemic), he would swim laps at the YMCA in downtown Berkeley. With friends in the neighborhood, he does a lot of biking: They go down to the Marina, or they bike to UC Berkeley to hang out here near the creek. We live really close to a great park w facilities, so he plays pick-up soccer games there, also tennis and basketball. When not doing physical stuff, he plays music: he has had 6 years of piano lessons, and now is taking guitar lessons at his high school; so he always needs to practice music. The friends also play chess/board games, and build elaborate lego sets. My son is allowed to go to the movies w friends, and we watch shows as a family— so it’s not completely “no screens” in his life; and of course he uses computer for homework. But his cell phone does not have internet (it’s a GABB brand phone) — only texting, phone calls, and photos. I highly suggest joining a gym — to socialize around sports, working out, swimming, etc. Also, encourage him to get involved at school in things like theatre, clubs, sports, music, etc: there is a lot of social interaction that happens around the many practicies and rehearsals for these activities. Good luck! 

Sports sports sports!! Tennis, baseball, fencing, swimming- anything physical he can do twice or 3x week or every day!