How to Manage Your Child’s Time Online

May 05, 2016

Summer is right around the corner and many parents are worried about how much time their children will spend online over summer break. In an ideal world, our kids would be out frolicking in the grass, climbing trees, playing tag, and playing board games all day long…never asking for the tablet. However, today that’s clearly not what our children want to do 24-7.

The good news is, you’re not alone in this challenge. First realize that you aren’t the worst parent in the world for allowing your child a few hours of screen time (see My kids use their tablet and I’m not sorry). Fortunately, there are many benefits to the enormous amounts of educational tools available on line today (much different than the days when I binge watched hours of MTV) but I think we can all agree that boundaries for online usage are a necessity for raising children today. The question becomes, how do we do this without getting into the dreaded battles all parents face when telling their kids they have to get off their tablet or phone?

Instead of engaging in an argument or battle, rise above the challenge by providing ground rules that are reasonable. Let go of the anger and embrace technology using a realistic, healthy approach.

Here’s how.

  1. Create some rules. Depending on your child’s age, sit down and create reasonable expectations for how much time should be spent online. Perhaps a family meeting is a great time to allow your child to feel heard about how they would like to spend their time this summer. In addition, this is a great opportunity to explain WHY you need to establish rules and not that you’re just trying to challenge their independence. According to Harris Interactive, a quarter of teens would be shocked (24 percent), one in five would feel hurt (19 percent) and 34 percent would feel offended if they found out their mother was keeping track of what they do online without their knowledge or permission. For this reason, it’s important to be seen as an ally not a spy.
  2. Stick to your guns. Once rules have been established, stick with them. Your kids will test at first but it will soon become the norm and they will appreciate knowing the rules and expectations in the long run.
  3. Use a time management tool. It’s easy to lose track of how long your child has been online but fortunately parental control software like Net Nanny® provides time management solutions to easily keep track of your child’s usage. In fact, Net Nanny® was recently rated one of the best time management tool according to AT&T Top 12 Safety Apps for Parents providing filtering options, social media monitoring, and time management features. Best of all, with remote access, you can receive reports or change profile settings as long as you have internet connection.

Once these difficult conversations have taken place, guidelines have been established, and monitoring tools are being utilized, you can rest assured knowing that your kids will have a healthy dose of screen-time this summer.