How much time should your child spend on the internet?
With the flourishing popularity of the world wide web, many parents are concerned about the amount of time their children are spending on the internet and, in general, in front of screens such as TVs, hand-held devices, video games and computers. Parents and experts are beginning to wonder if screen time is replacing the real-life experiences that their children would enjoy had they not been spending so much time on all these tech-based devices. Most children begin to watch television or videos through online platforms before they start school. Some children will not sit down for dinner without cartoons playing and in some households, the TV is on at all times.
However, with the internet being of so much use when doing research, studying or enquiring about even the smallest of subjects, it is hard to put a ban on it altogether. So, where does one start? As a parent, you should regulate the amount of time being spent on the internet and ensure that there is plenty of time in your child’s day for other activities such as physical activity, healthy eating, socialising and learning. With children between the age of 8 and 28 spending an average of 44.5 hours per week in front of screens, it’s critical for a child’s health that their parent of figure of authority intervenes before this habit begins to affect their health.
Here are some signs of a child becoming an internet addict:
- Fails to realise how long they have spent online and loses track of time staying on for longer than initially intended
- Stays up all night to be on the internet
- Sneaks online when you’re not around or is not honest about how long they’ve been online for
- Is constantly checking social media and picking up their phone or getting on the computer
- Prefers online time over time with friends and family
- Has lost interest in activities that they enjoyed before getting online access
- Gets irritable when they do not get permission to use the internet
- Sacrifices sleep to be online
- They have trouble completing tasks like chores at home or homework
Here is how you can start to monitor and oversee the time being spent on the internet.
- Become more computer savvy – as technology continues to advance at a rapid speed, it’s hard to keep up with and it can be quite intimidating. The younger generation tend to keep up with the trend but it’s important that you know enough to install filters to ensure browsing is child-appropriate. You can also install apps for this.
- Set rules and timings – set a certain amount of time that they are allowed to spend in front of a screen per day and ensure that this is followed. For example, after homework is complete or an hour extra on the weekend.
- Children under 2 years old – These kids should get absolutely no screen time at all
- Children between the ages of 2 to 10 – One hour per day of supervised time online
- Tween and Teens – No more than two hours each day after homework is complete
- Location – place your computer in a public area of the house where you can see how much time your children are spending on the computer and what kind the kind of online activities they are engaging in. Leaving a computer in a child’s room is not a good idea because this can encourage late night gaming and browsing, inability to sleep and it can prove to be difficult to monitor.