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Do your kids spend too much time online?

Posted Nov 27 2012 2:00am

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The internet has revolutionised the way we work, the way we think, the way we socialise. As busy parents we recognise the difference the internet has made to our lives – but our kids take it for granted.

Called the “internet generation”, our children don’t spend as much time outside in the fresh air as we once did. We made our own fun, we built dens, we climbed trees… they log onto Facebook and update their photos….

They spend so long online and look at so many websites we often have to download free malware protection just to keep the family PC running!

But where do you draw the line, and say “enough is enough!”?

Do you want to kick them out of the house and tell them to get some exercise, rather than level up their Level 40 Paladin on World of Warcraft?

You do? Well here’s five things you can do to get your kids offline and away from the monitor.

1)    Tough love

The first, and probably most effective way of getting your child offline is by being tough.

Whether that’s by physically shutting down the computer and flicking the ‘off switch’, or by banning your child from using it between certain times, the “tough love” approach will yield instant results.

However, although this strong-arm approach may work in the short-term, you could be risking a backlash. By forcing your child to go ‘cold turkey’, they could end up resenting you and acting up in other ways.

2)    Move the computer

A slightly less serious step is to physically move the computer, rather than switching it off.

If their computer or laptop is in their bedroom, then get it out of there and move it to somewhere more accessible, like your living room. Not only will you be able to monitor their usage, the actual task of moving their computer may be enough to reduce their usage.

3)    Set a time limit

You can reduce your child’s internet use by setting a time limit each day, with rewards for good behaviour.

Once you’ve moved the PC, lay down a rule that they can only go on for one, two or three hours a day – or however long you feel is right. Set out timeslots that they can be online, and a time that they need to be off by (an hour before their bed seems reasonable).

Another good idea is to give them a reward for good behaviour. If they get all their homework done they can have an extra half-hour, for example. If they walk to the shops and get essentials, they can have an extra hour at the weekend.

Believe us, it works.

4)    Get software which limits their use

With all the best will in the world though, your kids are still likely to put up a fight – particularly if they are absorbed in an online game or busy chatting to their friends when you tell them it’s time to turn it off.

Did you know there is family safety software available which you can install on your PC which will switch it off after a set time? It also comes with other handy features – you can see what sites they have been visiting and even what they have been typing. It can even run in the background so they won’t feel like they are being monitored!

5)     Get out of the house

Our final tip is to actually get them out of the house by spending some quality time together!

Rather than moan at them about the time they spend online, why not get active with them yourself? Go out for a walk, go bowling, go swimming, go for a kickabout in the park or go to the cinema.

You could even ask them to spend time online searching for fun things to do in your local area. Perhaps there is a club they could join?

If you’re serious about limiting their time online, then offering an alternative will work if it’s appealing enough. Get fit and get active and you’ll not only lose weight you’ll bond with them too.

So there you have it, five ways you can get your kids offline and back into the land of the living.

Good luck!

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