There are many views as to what is appropriate but a good starting point is to consider what you as the parent feel is too much and why.
It’s important to consider your child’s usage in the context of how it impacts their life. How much does your child rely on their devices – have you experienced a tantrum when trying to take a tablet from a young child, or have you noticed your teenager spending hours on Instagram or Snapchat?
It’s important to know and understand why your child is online and what value they get from this. This will help you to negotiate rules or expectations regarding screen time.
While considering the appropriate amount of screen time for your child, it is also worth considering:
- The content of what your child is viewing for example: Are they spending their time reading, studying, searching or are they gaming? It is important to know the nature of the screen time.
- What is your child’s relationship to their device / the internet?
- Does it cause them distress?
- Does the amount of time your child spends online impact their:
- Emotional wellbeing
- Family time or their relationships
- Do I have parental controls set?
- What are the popular child-friendly sites/apps available online?
- How does my child’s device work?
You can create family rules together and explain why it’s important to have a structure around screen time. Highlight the benefits for your family and agree together what’s appropriate for you.
It is important to note that excessive time spent on a device could potentially have a negative impact on a child or young person. Talk to your child about possible risks (e.g. privacy and sharing information) and options for safeguarding and support.
Finding the right balance for you and your family can be achieved by having regular, open conversations about life online. You can help your child to moderate their own online activity, involve them in the process and feel confident about how they interact with the internet.
To see how we addressed the topic of online safety for children and young people on our Childline site, click here.