Adults know all too well how easy it is to fall into an "internet trance" that causes minutes and even hours to slip away as if by magic. Perhaps they've even experienced certain physical effects of not using a (real or imagined) computer timer, effects like an aching back and shoulder from slouching, repetitive motion injuries of the hands and wrists, and eye strain.
Kids need to know there's a big, interesting world outside the virtual world.
These physical manifestations of too much screen time can happen to children as well. A 2015 study by researchers in Australia reported that 45% of 8-year-olds spend more than two hours a day in front of electronic screens. That figure jumps to 80% by the time kids reach age 16. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that excessive screen time can result in difficulties in school, disrupted sleeping and eating, obesity, and attention problems that might influence kids' results in future.
But educational researchers and teachers say that children under three shouldn't have screen time at all, and that kids over age three should have time limits that could be set at kids computer timer or clock timer. Not only do these time limits help ensure your child has more well-rounded life experiences and fun, it limits their risk of being targeted by inappropriate online activity, whether from other kids, or from adults.
How Parents Can Limit Computer Time for Kids
Setting an example, enforcing rules, and implementing computer time limits can help keep screens from taking over family life.
In some households, setting a computer timer or digital fun timers for kids with a simple egg timer with great visual effects can make a difference, your can also use online timers and online clocks that are frequently able to block Internet access when time limit is over for the same goal. You should note that tech savvy kids might find a way to countdown timers, so for most, this isn't enough. Other ways parents can act as a kids computer timer include not allowing screen-based devices in children's bedrooms and be 100% sure that kids don't watch cartoons night after night and there's no need to set cartoon minutes timer in a bedroom. Having "media-free zones" in homes and explaining why you're limiting screen time can also make a positive difference.
Parents also need to talk to kids about digital house rules and act as good role models by limiting their own screen time and putting away digital devices when the family is spending minutes together, say, around the dinner table, or in the living room on movie or board-game night. Parents and kids must realize that technology isn't an end in itself, but is a tool for learning, entertainment, and communication.
When used appropriately, digital devices can be good tools for learning, entertainment, and socializing. But it's essential that parents teach kids how to make smart technology use choices and to limit their screen time so they'll have time for other good things in life, like playing outdoors, creating art, or reading books.
Many parents turn to computer time limit software to help them enforce rules on the amount of time their kids spend in front of screens. Familoop parental control is a comprehensive solution for safeguarding kids online, and it includes computer time limit feature so you can set and enforce healthy limits. What's more, Familoop Safeguard works across digital devices, so you don't have to worry about setting up a computer timer for kids on each device individually. Rarely can the modern family get away from technology altogether, but good parenting assisted by outstanding software tools can ensure that technology has its proper place in the home and doesn't take over.