Computer time rules

Computer time rules

Computers and games can be great for kids but it’s important to lay down some ground rules for a happy household.


Computers, television and games are all wonderful tools for leisure and learning for the whole family. Despite the wrong perception of screens taking over our kids’ lives, computers dominate 21st century communication and it is no bad thing if our children understand and feel confident with them. 

However, it is important to set some limits on computer time, especially for younger children. Games are easy to get drawn into and can mean you are sitting on one position for lengthy periods of time which is not great for posture. They can also mean you are concentrating too intensely for longer than you should.

And that’s all before you get onto other issues like having to drag your kids off the computer so other people can use them, or to get the kids round the table at mealtimes. Variety is, as they say, the spice of life, so here are some tips for setting computer time limits.

Computer time – what’s safe?
Screen time of all kinds should be limited so that you don’t become too sedentary – this applies to adults as well as children. However, there are no official guidelines beyond recommendations for young people that states a maximum period of around two hours per day screen time (including computer and television use) is good practice. 

Computer time – setting limits
Make your rules and stick to them. You know your family best. If your child is younger you might set a limit of 30 minutes once or twice a day. If you do, make sure you stick to this. Forgetting the time and letting it run on will make your child think 30 minutes is longer than it really is, and come the next time you declare time’s up you’ll have a row on your hands. The easiest thing to do is set the kitchen timer, then you can all hear it when 30 minutes is up.

Think about timing. If getting your children to do homework is a chore midweek, or their after-school timetable is full of other lessons, classes and playdates, consider whether it’s better to limit time on the home computer to weekends.

Computer use for homework
Be fair and show your child that you understand the difference between time spent on the computer for homework (where relevant) and time for fun. However, make sure the two don’t run into each other or you might find your child hasn’t actually got any work done at all!

‘Lock’ them out
It sounds extreme, but you can download software that allows you to time how long your child’s page/login will operate at one sitting. There are lots of companies offering this online, but check with your internet service provider first to see if this is an add-on they offer as part of your rental package.

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Internet safety – useful links
Don’t forget that the best option is to situate any computer used by your kids somewhere in the center of the home rather than in their bedroom. This way you can keep in touch with what they are looking at without hanging on their shoulder.

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