In recent years, the issue of ‘how much computer time’ has begun to plague parents. Limiting – and even monitoring – the amount of time our children spend on computers has become more difficult as schools begin to use them more and more. Our children use the computer to complete homework, practice math facts, or even to email their teachers.
Here are some quick tips to help you set up computer guidelines in your home:
Differentiate between homework and game time. There is a difference between the tasks a child is required to do because of school and the games he or she likes to play online. Make certain that your child understands the difference between the two and your rules regarding both.
Pre-determine computer time. It is important for you to decide how much computer time you are comfortable allowing your children to have. Once you have decided, be sure you follow through on your limits. Set timers or program the computer to shut off automatically after the allotted time.
Put controls in place. Set up controls that allow you to check your child’s computer usage, see where they’ve been online, and ensure they are not able to access sites that are inappropriate. There are many great online games that help children with critical thinking, imaginative play, and creating.
Don’t use the computer as a babysitter. It’s so easy to allow your children extra computer time while you finish up in the kitchen. Your children, however, will soon learn that they can get more computer time than they are supposed to, and your system won’t work very well.
Make your rules clear. Explain all house rules involved in computer time. Do homework and chores have to be done before computer time is allowed? Is computer time taken away for poor behavior? How are you going to monitor computer usage? What responsibility lies on your children?
Model the behavior you are asking for. If you want your children to play more and use the computer less – make sure you are doing the same. How often do your children see you running to your computer to check your email? Do you jump (and respond) every time your phone dings with an instant message from someone? There is a time and a place for technology, and we need to make sure we are living in accordance with the values we want to pass along to our children.
No mom wants her child to wile away an afternoon playing on the computer. By setting up house guidelines, you can take control and organize your child’s computer usage.