When I was a kid, Neopets were all the rage. My classmates and I would spend hours online every single day trying to get as many perks and upgrades for our pets, gathering the cutest foods and furniture we could find. My parents weren’t too happy about this, and they eventually started limiting the time I spent online, going as far as blocking the website. Now that I’m an adult, I understand why they did what they did, but I think that being so extreme in limiting a kid’s online time can only be counterproductive. I’ve done a bit of research on some better ideas about encouraging kids to spend less time online, and here are some of the things I found out.
If your kid finds joy in things offline, it’s very likely that they’ll reduce the time they spend on the internet to pursue those things. Sports are the most obvious example, but they’re certainly not the only example of kid-friendly hobbies. Hiking, crafting, and reading are all great hobbies for kids to get into, and if they can pursue classes or join hiking groups to explore their hobbies even further, they are more likely to carry on with these hobbies.
Make Family Time a Priority
Having a healthy family life is important to a child’s growth and well-being, and if family time is made a priority, they will actually enjoy spending time away from the computer. Having dinner together, showing interest in their day and what goes on at school, and taking their suggestions for family trips and outings goes a long way to developing strong family ties that help keep them in the real world more often.
Talk About It
Limiting internet time without talking about it first is a sure-fire way to encourage your child to develop resentment towards you. If you communicate your concerns while allowing room for compromise, you are less likely to deal with a child’s attempts at getting around whatever controls you place on your computer or on their tech. You could designate the hours from 3 to 7 as phone-free or internet-free time unless it’s required for homework, and they can do what they like from 7 until their bedtime. In this way, you still allow them access to the internet without being extreme.