These days, most kids and teenagers will spend a lot of their time on the internet. This can be at school but also at home, either playing games, watching movies or chatting with friends on social media. Whilst this may provide hard-working parents will some welcome reprieve from being nagged at, it can also become a potential problem if left unchecked.
Firstly let’s consider the dangers of kids spending too much time online. Research has shown that spending too much time online poses some health risks including high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, obesity and increased chance of becoming socially isolated. Kids can also become irritable and less likely to want to do more healthier activities if they are solely reliant on the internet for entertainment.
So – the next question is what can be done about all this considering the internet is an integral part of all our everyday lives? Below are some top tips to help parents manage their kids’ web browsing…
- Don’t deprive them of the internet completely, instead agree certain times of the day or week they are allowed to spend online.
- Make sure the time they are spending online is not being wasted waiting for stuff to load as your connection is too slow. If it is the case then it might be time to see if you can get a deal on your broadband and get a faster connection.
- Set up up content filtering either via your ISP or by downloading an application such as NetNanny which will ensure they won’t be able to access harmful or unsuitable content.
- Talk to them. Teach them good old fashioned advice, like not talking to strangers or disclosing personal data online.
- Put the computer they want to use in a communal area where you can keep an eye on what they are looking at. Alarm bells should start to sound if your child or teen repeatedly wants to go online alone or is secretive with their devices.
- If they want to make friends with someone online, make sure they actually know who the other person is.
Following the above advice should allow for sensible and controlled internet usage without having to sacrifice the benefits associated with letting kids use the web. Although it can be easy to caricature kids using the internet as just mindlessly playing games or watching inane TV shows, in reality, there are some positives that come from them being online. For example, social media can help them keep in touch more with their friends whilst playing games can help improve reaction times and promote problem-solving skills.
In summary, the ubiquitous nature of the internet means it will play an increasing part in kids and teenage lives for years to come. However, this should not be seen as a negative as there are many benefits to this increased connectivity. Parents merely need to have a plan in place to monitor and manage internet usage by their kids.