7 Ways to Set Screen Time Boundaries With Your Child

Helping to stop your child from getting lost in cyberspace.

Posted Sep 11, 2014

The explosive, exponential growth of technology keeps children being exposed to more and more online offerings than ever. It is crucial to communicate with your child as he or she faces screen technology distractions and temptations that you never experienced at their age. To minimize power struggles on this journey, stay collaborative in your approach and consider the following to set manageable boundaries:

  • Be supportive and remind your child that you love him or her and that you care about his happiness and well-being. Children often interpret questions about their behavior as blame and criticism. Ask your child what interesting things he has been doing online versus demanding a rigid accounting of how much time he spends online each day and which Internet activities they engage in.
  • If your kids visit chat rooms, use instant messaging programs, online video games, or other activities on the Internet that require a login name to identify themselves, help them choose that name and make sure it doesn't reveal any personal information about them.
  • Remind your child that with television you can monitor her viewing habits more easily, but with the Internet you need her help and cooperation to become appropriately involved. If your child has gone into inappropriate websites, express your concerns in a non-shaming manner. Encourage your child to have an honor system to keep a log of internet use for a week or two to build trust between you. Realize that if your child shuts down or balks at the idea of your monitoring his use then you are likely dealing with his denial of an addictive pattern of use.
  • Encourage your kids to share their Internet experiences with you. Enjoy the Internet along with your children.
  • Teach your kids to trust their instincts. If they feel nervous about anything online, they should tell you about it.
  • Emphasize to your kids never give out your address, phone number, or other personal information, including where they go to school or where they like to play.
  • Become more Internet savvy. If you or you child encounter inappropriate behavior online, whether it’s violent video games, cyber-bullying or online predators, don’t ignore it. Act on the misconduct by talking to your chilrd about the issue, Openly but tactfully bring up the subject with another child’s parents or report it to the appropriate authorities.

For more problematic, persistent concerns, see a qualified mental health professional.