More Screen Time Tips: Internet Safety and Videogames

More Screen Time Tips:

Internet Safety and Videogames


Children are spending more and more time online and playing videogames. Follow these basic guidelines to assist in maintaining your child’s safety and limiting the negative impacts of their screen time.


Set clear rules about internet use

As with all media, set limits on internet use. Be clear about your rules and expectations, and let your child know that you want her to enjoy the internet for the wonderful resource it is. Emphasize that the guidelines you have set up will enable her to enjoy the internet safely.


Install monitoring software and establish parental controls

Take advantage of free or low-cost options for increasing the ability to monitor or track your child's internet activity. Set controls to prohibit sites with adult themes and to keep your child from making unauthorized purchases.


Remind that people we meet online are strangers

Remind your child that people we meet online are strangers. Just as we should not give out our address, telephone number, name, school, or any other information to a stranger, we should not give out personal information to people we meet online.


Talk with your child about what he sees and does on the internet

Encourage your child to talk to you right away about anything online that makes him feel uncomfortable.


Ask your child about the people she meets on the internet

Make sure that your child talks to you directly about anyone she has met online who wants to meet her in person.


Meeting “friends” from the internet in person requires adult supervision

Establish a firm rule that your child may not go to meet someone he met online unless a parent or other responsible adult goes with him.


Emailing personal information should be done only with permission

Explain to your child that it is not safe to email pictures of herself or any other personal information without first checking with you. Let her know that just as it is important that you know who her friends are and what she does with her friends, it is important that she talks with you before beginning an email friendship with a new person.


Discuss conversations and messages he receives through the internet

Encourage your child to talk to you about any messages that are mean or make him feel uncomfortable. Reassure your child that he is not to blame if he gets a message of that kind. Urge him to confide in you, reminding him that you are on his team. Make it clear that online bullying is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.


Keep the computer in a high-traffic area

To make it easier to monitor your child's internet activity, keep computers out of the bedroom and instead, have them in common areas of the home.




Has videogame playing gotten out of control in your home? Here are tips for setting appropriate boundaries and regaining control.


Playing games is a privilege, not a right

If you make it clear to your child on the day you set up the video game system that playing video games is a privilege you have allowed him, you will be well on your way to regulating game play in your home. This approach enables you to use the system as a reward for positive behavior.


Set time limits

One way to avoid multiple-hour playing stretches is to set a daily limit or establish a specific period each day when games can be played. Consider using a visual timer to make tracking time easier and allow for a warning when the time will be up soon.


Homework and chores come first

Make your priorities clear. If your child fails to complete her homework and chores, or does them poorly, restrict access to the game system. To offset this punitive approach, you can reward your child by extending playing time or by renting a new game when extra effort is put into homework or chores.


Control the controllers

If your child insists on playing longer than you would like or plays in direct disobedience to your wishes, remove the controllers. Games cannot be played without the controllers.


Encourage cooperative play

Video games frequently cause squabbles among siblings. Consider the following solutions to this problem:

– Look for two-player games that offer a “cooperative play mode.”

– In some two-player competitive games, it is possible to set different difficulty levels for each child. You can use this feature to balance their playing skills.

– If the children really don’t want to play together, schedule separate playing sessions for each child. Use a timer to signal when play stops for one child and starts for another.


Emphasize active game-playing

To balance time spent playing games in a sedentary manner, incorporate more active games that require movement, balance, agility, and physical activity.


Encourage other activities

It is easy for children to get hooked on video games, to the exclusion of almost everything else. Encourage and support the child’s participation in other activities. If your child does not seem to be interested in anything other than video games, try getting him interested in other activities that are related to one of his favorite games. If your child prefers fantasy role-playing games, for example, you might encourage him to read some books with a fantasy theme or, using inexpensive art or building materials, help him construct a miniature fantasy kingdom.


Control game-related spending

To keep game-related expenses at a minimum, rent games rather than purchasing them new, and set up a game-swap arrangement with friends, classmates, neighbors, and family members.


Choose games appropriate for your child’s age and ability

Monitor the age rating on the front of the videogame package and look for games with decreased graphic violence, profanity, and aggression. Ratings assess the content of the game, not the skill level.