The amount of time kids spend online is a source of frustration for many parents. Initially, parents welcomed the Internet into their homes, believing they were opening up an exciting new world of educational opportunities for their children. However, many parents soon realized that, instead of using the Internet for homework or research, their kids were spending hours instant messaging with friends, playing online games, or talking to strangers in chat rooms.
Maintaining a healthy balance between entertainment media and other activities in their children's lives has always been a challenge for parents. The Internet has made this challenge even more difficult. The engaging nature of Internet communications and interactive games means many children and teens have trouble keeping track of time when they're online. Here are some ways to help your kids establish a healthy balance between Internet use and other activities.
Tips for balancing time online and offline
Look for symptoms of Internet dependency. Ask yourself if your child's Internet use is affecting his or her school performance, health, and relationships with family and friends. Determine how much time your children are spending online.
Get help. If your child is demonstrating strong signs of Internet addiction, consider seeking professional counseling. Compulsive Internet use may be symptomatic of other problems such as depression, anger, and low self-esteem.
Examine your own online habits. Do you have trouble controlling your Internet use? Remember, you are your child's most important role model.
Don't ban the Internet. It's an important part of most kids' social lives. Instead, establish family Internet rules about where your kids can go online and what they can do there;and stick to them. These rules might include: a limited amount of time online each day; no surfing or instant messaging until kids complete their homework; no chat rooms or online adult content.
Keep the computer out in the open. Set up your computer in a public area of your house, not in a child's bedroom.
Establish a balance. Encourage and support your child's participation in other activities- particularly physical pastimes with other children.
Help your child socialize offline. If your child is shy or socially awkward with peers, consider a social skills class. Encourage activities that will bring your child together with others who have similar interests, such as computer classes or hobby groups.
Monitor your kids. Investigate software that monitors and restricts Internet use, such as the parental controls included in the MSN Premium service. Although filtering and monitoring tools are helpful, keep in mind that they can be disabled by a savvy computer user. Your ultimate goal should be helping your kids to develop self-control, discipline, and accountability with the Internet.
Suggest alternatives. If your children seem interested only in playing online video games, try an offline tie-in to one of their favorite games. For example, if your child enjoys fantasy role-playing games, encourage her or him to read fantasy books.
(Posted by Tina) Rating
Very informative article. Thanks. My child will spend every breathing second online gaming if I let him. In order to prevent my child from spending all the time while I am at work, I use parental control software Ez Internet Timer http://www.internettimer.net. It can stop all children’s on-line activity and block Internet browsers, e-mails, ftps or messengers according to my daily schedule and I'm relieved.