Keeping Kids Safe Online: Tip 3

Tip 3: Set boundaries around internet and device use for children and teens. 

As many parents understandably relax their standards on internet use for kids during the pandemic, it is still very important for parents to set and keep boundaries around their online activity. Those boundaries can vary depending on your family’s needs. Parents of older children may need to focus more on time limits, whereas parents of younger children will want to pay close attention to the content their kids are viewing. 

Setting time limits around internet use is a good start, keeping in mind that younger children need less screen time than older kids for both recreational and educational purposes. The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry suggests the following guidelines for parents: 

  • Until 18 months of age limit screen use to video chatting along with an adult (for example, with a parent who is out of town).
  • Between 18 and 24 months, screen time should be limited to watching educational programming with a caregiver. 
  • For children 2-5, limit non-educational screen time to about 1 hour per weekday and 3 hours on the weekend days. 
  • For ages 6 and older, encourage healthy habits and limit activities that include screens. 
  • Turn off screens and remove them from bedrooms 30-60 minutes before bedtime.

There are many other ways to set boundaries around internet usage, including limiting apps or games, using parental controls to help prevent access to inappropriate content, and collecting devices before bedtime each day.  Common Sense Media has an extremely useful resource for parents on the different types of parental controls that are available for parents here

When thinking about these limits for your family, it’s important to recognize that every family is different and has different needs on a daily basis. Parents are encouraged to consider each guideline and how it may fit into their family dynamic before implementing boundaries for their family.