It’s that time of year again – back to school 2021! Getting the kids ready for another school year is no easy feat, especially when it comes to reducing their screen time during the school term and creating good online habits. How much time online is too much? According to the Office of the eSafety Commission, this depends on a range of factors, including your kid’s age and the type of content they consume. Overall, the recommended guideline for screen time is no more than 2 hours per day for kids aged 5-17.
Spending too much time online can affect your kids’ health and development, some with harmful effects including; tiredness, changes in eating patterns, disrupted sleep, reduced motivation, and less interest in social activities. If you find your kids exhibiting some of these behaviours and you are concerned, sit down and have an open conversation with them. Watch out for any underlying issues such as social issues or cyberbullying and seek help if necessary.
To aid your back to school transition this year, and help your kids form good online habits early on, follow our top tips:
- Have kids earn screen time – ensure your kids complete compulsory tasks such as homework and household chores before they are able to access their devices.
- Talk to the kids about safe and responsible use online – have a conversation about what apps/websites they use and how to be safe. Let them know not to befriend people they don’t know or download anything they don’t trust. Encourage them to come to you if they are experiencing any issues online.
- Charge all devices outside the bedroom – set up an area that the kids won’t be able to access at night to charge their devices. Doing so ensures they get a good night’s rest without the distraction of the device.
- Set online time limits – many devices already feature useful parental controls that can assist in setting time limits for your kids to reduce their internet use at home. Trend Micro offers a solution with strong parental controls called Trend Micro Home Network Security. It also includes Trend Micro Guardian, which extends parental controls outside the home to your kid’s smart phone or tablet. Find out more here.
- Set a positive example – have you ever thought of your own online behaviour? As much as you love scrolling through your social media feed and catching up on the latest news, your kids are watching and mimicking this behaviour, which makes it difficult to manage their device time. Consider reducing the amount of time you spend on online and draw up a contract with the family to ensure everyone is held accountable (with consequences for parents too if not followed!)
Of course, when it comes to the internet, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open, and sit down to have a discussion with your kids about what you’re doing to keep them safe and listen to their concerns. Transitioning back to school is not about taking away their online time entirely, but ensuring they enjoy it in a balanced way and develop healthy online habits.