Think your child spends too much time online? Join the club. Whereas parents used to fret about how much television their children watched, today’s concern is centered on how much time their children spend glued to another screen, the one connected to the World Wide Web. Whether it’s via a PC, laptop, tablet, or smart phone, more and more kids are devoting more and more of their leisure time to surfing the net.
While no one can tell you exactly how much is too much (that’s a decision you’ll have to make on your own), there’s one thing that’s certain—it’s your duty as a parent to make sure that a) your child has a fulfilling and productive life outside of the one he’s created on the web, and b) that the amount of time your child spends online isn’t putting his health or safety at risk. How do you do that? Read on for some practical tips to help your child strike a balance between the virtual world and the real one.
### How to Manage Your Child’s Internet Time
#### Ensure That Your Child Is Interacting Socially
No, social media doesn’t count. What we’re referring to is social interaction that occurs in the real—not the virtual—world. As you well know, not even the most advanced technology can replace a simple face-to-face chat with a friend or a hug from a family member. No matter how much time you allow your child to spend connected to the Internet, be sure that you keep his or her schedule open for these authentic social engagements. Encourage your child to invite a friend over, for instance, and make sure that your child remains active in family functions minus any technological distractions.
#### Encourage Physical Activity
One of the major problems associated with young people and the Internet is that many times kids are surfing the web during times when they could be outside riding bikes or tossing the football—you know, the things we did as a kid before technology infiltrated every aspect of our lives. It may take a little coaxing at first, especially if your youngster is used to having free reign over their laptops or smart phones, but you need to be sure that you’re encouraging plenty of physical activity (i.e. at least thirty minutes per day). If the weather is nice, push them out the door and let them get a little vitamin D along with their exercise.
#### Make Homework a Priority
It can be ever so tempting for your youngster to come home from school, grab his laptop, and plop down on the coach for an afternoon/evening of playing online games, watching YouTube videos, and chatting on social media sites. In many cases, homework or other school-related responsibilities get pushed aside in favor of more entertaining things that can be found on the web. Although eventually you will want to teach your youngster to act responsibly on his own, you may have to take the lead at first and require that your child complete all school assignments before hopping online.
Whatever your family decides is a healthy amount of time to allot to online activities, be sure that you have a software program like Qustodio installed on your computer to track the amount of time your child spends online each day. After all, you never know when your youngster may be sneaking in some online activity when you’re not looking. Qustodio’s web portal allows you to monitor and manage your child’s online activity from any location or device. Visit our site and download our software for free today.