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Curbing Your Children's Internet Use This Summer

These days it’s hard to imagine a world without the Internet. Classrooms have computers and tablets and homework often involves using the world wide web in one way or another.

This can come with another side to it though, where children end up spending a lot of time on social media. It’s nice for them to be able to contact friends and family easily, but being in constant contact with the outside world can be stressful, and of course there is always the worry of bullying or inappropriate content as well.

With the summer holidays almost upon us, here are some ways you can help your children to curb their internet use over the break:

  • Lead by example. If your children see you routinely putting your phone down or stepping away from the laptop in order to pay attention to what’s going on, they may well follow your example. You will also stand a better chance of compliance when you ask them to leave their devices alone for a while.
  • Make a rule around mealtimes. Many families have found success with this by agreeing that everyone - including parents - will place their mobile and/or tablet into a bowl or box at the beginning of each meal, and will not pick it up again until they leave the table. The trick with this is to ensure you then fill your mealtime with conversations where everyone can join in, so that they forget about their devices sitting attention-less in the next room.
  • Use parental settings. This works better for younger children. Many tablets these days either come with a parental setting or have an app you can download which allows you to do things like set the amount of time each day the tablet will work, or to limit which apps are "authorised” for use in your child’s user profile.
  • Switch the router off. This one rarely goes down well with anyone in the house, but it’s one of those solutions that can work well for everyone in the long run, once you get used to it. Rather than randomly switching the router off at different times, tell everyone that the router will be switched off at a set time each day. Tell them when it will be switched back on again, and explain why you are doing this. This is great for ensuring a night-time curfew on such things, but also during the day if you want to get your child to come out of their room and interact a little.
  • Have an allocated time for devices. Again, this is probably one for younger children but many parents have found success in having a blanket rule that electronic devices are only used at set times of the day, for example between 4 and 6 pm. This can work because once children learn the rule, they won’t ask to use their devices outside of this time.
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