Many parents worry about how their children use the internet, social media and how much time they spend looking at their screens.
Whether you’re comfortable with technology or completely confused by all things online, the reality is that the internet is here to stay and it will play a big part in your child’s life. (And in truth, all of us are spending more time online).
This might sound a bit scary or daunting. You don’t have to become an expert in all things online, but it is important to take an interest in your child’s online world as you do with all their activities and relationships. This helps to keep them safe so they can use the internet and all its opportunities in a positive way.
Things to consider
- The online world is very important to children and they’ll use it differently to you. It’s good to take an interest – even if you don’t always share their enthusiasm.
- Be open and talk honestly about things your children see and do online: they need you to help them make sense of it.
- It can feel really difficult to tear your child away from their screen, but agreeing some rules and boundaries helps everyone. (This means setting a good example about your own screen time too).
Questions about internet use – with no easy answers
We know that many parents would like to have clear answers to questions such as:
- “How much screen time should I allow my child?” or
- “What age is it safe to give my child a mobile phone?”
There is lots of conflicting advice out there. The important thing is you know your child best. You’ll know what feels right or when it doesn’t, and your decisions, like all others, will be based on their age and maturity. Trust your instincts and be honest with your child about any concerns you have.
When it doesn’t feel right, you may have worries like:
- They spend all their time on a device or playing a game.
- They’re always sending messages or on social media, but you’re not sure who they’re talking to.
- They’re spending less time doing other things – family, homework, activities, meeting friends.