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Is my child spending too much time on the internet?

Over the past 10 years; the internet has played a crucial part in children’s education. From practicing online tests to researching homework questions; it is undoubtedly the largest source of information and educational tool of this day and age. The internet has provided the opportunity for children to learn faster than we ever could!

Schools have also had to adapt to these changes; embracing an online presence, fitting more ‘Internet research’ projects into their syllabuses and introducing computing technology to children from an early age. At the same time, they must teach children of the dangers of the internet.

On average, children between 5-16 spend 3 hours per day surfing the internet (read more…). Being taught ‘the ways of the internet’ from an early age not only presents the opportunity to build upon knowledge, but also the opportunity for our children to waste time on social media, play games and… watch funny cat videos…

This raises the question on every parent’s mind, is my child spending too much time on the internet, and how can I monitor this?

Firstly, we must understand the different feelings that children receive from the internet. This may be feeling ‘entertained’ from watching TV shows, ‘escapism’ from playing online games or ‘social inclusion’ from being active on social media. “Did you see that funny cat video on Facebook last night?”, the internet becomes the talking point of the playground conversation, and therefore, we must consider the value of these activities when used in moderation.

Like any good thing, if used in excess the internet can become an addiction. In 2015 Cambridge University researchers recorded the activities of more than 800 14-year-olds and analysed their GCSE results at 16. Those spending an extra hour a day on screens (TV, computer, games console, phone) saw a fall in GCSE results equivalent to 2 grades overall (read more… )

Parents must be cautious and approach the internet with routine. A common technique is to allocate specific internet time for your children, to complete homework tasks and use the rest of the time for their entertainment. This may be easier when dealing with younger children, but as they grow older, they get phones, they get tablets; and all new means of using the internet.

Society is in awe of the internet, as parents we must be role models to our children and apply the same restraints and routines to our own personal lives. The Mirror’s coverage last year on how children feel about their parents spending so much time on digital gadgets shows a video produced by Start-rite about the importance of being a role model to our children (read more…).

We want our children to be tech-savvy and use the internet as a means to aid development as well as achieve a social balance, however, excessive screen time is at the detriment of other activities.

The answer is not to cut the internet cables! It is about helping your child acknowledge all of the wonderful things in life they may be missing out on whilst they’re ‘surfing the internet’. The benefits of reading, getting involved with after school clubs, arranging play dates with friends down at the local park. It is about creating a balance of activities for your children that fulfil their personal needs.

Please let us know your personal experiences, any techniques you have or stories to tell, we would love to hear from you!