There are many ways you can help your child maintain a healthy balance between online and offline activities for the benefit of their health and wellbeing.
Monitor the games, apps and devices your kids buy and then chat about any concerns you have. Your conversations should also cover positive things, such as what they love in life, careers they are interested in and new hobbies.
Finding balance is so important and you can help your kids with that by encouraging a mix of non-screen entertainment and socialising opportunities.
Set clear rules about when and for how long your child can play games or use the internet—the Australian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines provide a useful benchmark. It may take time to strike a balance but a minor reduction each day or ‘15-minutes to switch-off’ warning can help the transition. Reducing your own screen time also sets a positive example.
Involve your kids in a family screen time plan to help set clear boundaries and balance online and offline activities. It could include an agreed age-based screen time schedule, rules about what websites can be visited and electronic games can be played (with clear consequences for breaking those rules), and control of access to the internet with daily passwords revealed once family time, homework and chores are complete. Where possible, try to avoid using screen time as a punishment as this approach may inflate its importance to children.
You may like to install a filter on the device your child is using that can be adjusted to limit the amount of time an internet connection will be available.
Find out more information about parental controls and filters in our Online safeguards section.
Try to locate the devices that your kids use in a shared or visible place in the home.
If your child seems particularly anxious or irritable, or you notice them becoming isolated from friends or other activities, there may be an underlying issue so seek help from your child’s school counsellor or your GP, or direct your kids to support services such as Kids Helpline (1800 55 180), which offers free and confidential counselling for young people or eHeadspace (1800 650 890) for online and telephone support for those aged 12–25.
An introduction to the issue of spending too much time online, including the impact on sleep and school work.
Parent and presenter Sharon Hunter talks to parents about how to help children find a balance between online and offline time.