How to manage your child’s Internet time in the New Normal
The new normal has ushered in new catchphrases and practices like WFH & LFH to our daily lives. To help “flatten the curve” (another trendy term), parents are now spending more time with their kids at home, managing the growing concern over their kids’ increased reliance on the internet and making sure they are maximizing their screen time in the new normal.
For parents, their kids’ increasing reliance on the internet has long been a concern, even before the new normal. And with most kids poised to do an increased percentage of their school work online for the foreseeable future, this concern will only grow as we navigate these uncharted waters of remote learning.
Fortunately, there are practical measures that parents can employ to make sure their kids are using their internet time wisely. Ranging from time-tested, mindful parenting tips to the latest available apps, here are three ways to monitor and maximize your kids’ screen time.
Set the record straight
Our kids’ healthy outlook towards gadgets and the net should start with us. When we first allowed our daughter to have her own phone and laptop, we sat her down and got straight with her. We told her why we waited until we thought she was mature enough to handle the responsibility of owning her own gadgets. We made sure she understood that ownership is a privilege that not a lot of teens get to enjoy. By showing the proper mindset in owning gadgets, we felt confident our daughter would treat them as the tools that they really are.
Set a schedule
That turned out to be a not-so-fool-proof plan. Pretty soon, she discovered the joys of online gaming, memes, and YouTube almost as fast as you can say “Animal Jam”. It was time for an intervention.
We implemented a Wi-Fi schedule for everyone in the house: a designated time in the morning, afternoon, and night. We start at 9 am, with my daughter’s Zoom classes and my wife’s remote work. After lunch, work would resume from 2 to 5 pm. If someone needed an extension to finish a particular task, they just had to ask for it. Dinner would be at 6, followed usually by a Netflix nightcap at 7 or 8 pm. By 9 or 10 pm, it was lights-out, with laptops and phones set in their designated places.
Immediately, we saw the positive effects on our daughter’s work habits. With the set limits, she saw the need to maximize her screen time and devote most of it to actual work. Eventually, we allowed her to use the evening Wi-Fi schedule to catch up with her friends, watch YouTube and engage in social media.
This set-up has allowed her more time for her passions – drawing and painting – as well as time to discover new hobbies such as playing the guitar and the electric bass.
Set up the right tech
While we never really saw the need for it, technology has always been there to help parents. Monitoring apps abound and are available for free. And while I do not have extensive experience with any monitoring app, I can appreciate the value they may have in contributing to a parent’s overall peace of mind.
And what better way to do this than with an app called – you guessed it – Screen Time. This app is designed for heavy user customization, including a feature that allows parents to reward kids with more screen time if they finish their schoolwork on time.
For those looking for a bit more regulation, apps like Zift offer instant reporting of online searches and alerts for inappropriate content viewing. Although, this seems a bit more Orwellian for me, I can understand the need for some parents to have this much control at their disposal.
Bear in mind that these tips are not always fool-proof and may not be applicable to every family’s situation. Inevitably, there will be times your kids will be using their screen time to goof off or chat with friends. In these lapses, just talk to them and remind them of their responsibilities.
Ultimately, the mutual trust cultivated from respect, transparency and mindful parenting can lead to your kids developing a healthy mindset towards apps, gadgets and the internet.
About The Writer
Macky is veteran creative of the advertising industry, having started out as a copywriter and eventually heading teams as an associate creative director. After more than 12 years in PR and advertising, Macky joined a major TV network, where he did creative work for both marketing and sales.
In 2014, he joined award-winning OPM band Truefaith as bass player, juggling between his day job duties and late-night gigs. To date, Macky has had two full-length albums and several overseas gigs, including a 2017 Australia - New Zealand tour, under his belt with Truefaith. In 2018, he left the fast-paced network life to focus on his music career and be a more hands-on parent to his 13-year old daughter, Naya. In his leisure time, Macky enjoys biking, honing his kitchen skills and going on backpacking adventures with his wife Drea and Naya.
The views and opinions expressed by the writer are his/her own, and does not state or reflect those of Wyeth Nutrition and its principals.