picture of children on devices

How to manage your child's screen time

Parents play a crucial role in guiding their children's internet and social media usage. Here are some key points and tips to consider, remembering that it can vary from family to family:

What Parents Need to Know:

1. Online Safety is Paramount: Parents should be aware of the potential dangers online, including cyberbullying, exposure to inappropriate content, and privacy risks. Understanding the platforms and apps their child uses is essential to address these concerns effectively.

2. Healthy Online Behaviour: Teach your child about responsible and respectful online behaviour. This includes emphasizing the importance of not sharing personal information, avoiding engaging in hurtful conversations, and understanding the consequences of their digital actions.

3. Balancing Screen Time: It's crucial to strike a balance between online and offline activities. Excessive screen time can have adverse effects on a child's physical and mental health. Encourage a healthy balance by setting screen time limits and encouraging physical activities and face-to-face social interactions.

Should There Be Strict Boundaries?

Yes, setting boundaries is important. However, the level of strictness may vary depending on the child's age, maturity, and individual circumstances as well as how the parents feel. Here are some guidelines:

1. Age-Appropriate Boundaries: For younger children, strict boundaries are generally necessary. Parents can limit screen time, monitor online activity, and restrict access to certain websites or apps. As children mature, boundaries can become more flexible, allowing them to demonstrate responsible online behavior.

2. Open Communication: Regardless of strictness, maintain open and ongoing communication with your child. Discuss the reasons behind the rules and encourage them to ask questions or express concerns. This helps build trust and understanding.

When to Introduce Phones and Social Media:

The age at which a child should be introduced to phones and social media can vary. However, it's essential to consider their maturity level, readiness, and the reasons for introducing these technologies. Here are some general guidelines:

1. Phone Introduction: Many parents introduce their child to a basic phone for communication purposes when they start school or become more independent. However, there's no one-size-fits-all answer; it depends on the individual child's needs and circumstances.

2. Social Media: The minimum age requirement for most social media platforms is 13. Parents should follow these age restrictions and consider their child's readiness to handle the responsibilities of online interactions. It's also important to educate them about the potential risks and benefits.

How to Keep Children Safe Online (3-4 Tips):

1. Educate Your Child: Teach your child about online safety, privacy, and responsible behavior. Discuss the risks associated with sharing personal information and the importance of not interacting with strangers online.

2. Use Parental Control Tools: Explore parental control software or features provided by internet service providers and devices. These tools allow you to set age-appropriate content filters, monitor screen time, and track your child's online activities.

3. Establish Family Rules: You could create a family agreement or set of rules for online usage. This can include guidelines for screen time, acceptable websites or apps, and consequences for breaking the rules. Make sure these rules are clear and consistently enforced explaining the importance of them.

4. Stay Engaged and Monitor: Be actively involved in your child's online life. Know which platforms they use, who their online friends are, and regularly check their privacy settings. Encourage them to come to you if they encounter anything uncomfortable or concerning online.

Remember that online safety is an ongoing conversation and process and is individual for each family. As your child grows and becomes more independent, you may want to adapt your approach to suit their evolving needs and responsibilities. 


Article Credit: Holly Zoccolan, Parenting Expert & Founder of The Carol App

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