Your Child's Screen Time

If there’s a school closure or your child needs to self-isolate due to coronavirus (COVID-19), your child will likely be spending more time on devices than usual, especially if doing remote learning. You need to know the risks and what you can do to keep your child safe.

What’s the problem?

Spending time online and on devices can be a positive thing. But, higher screen time can put your child more at risk of

  • Being bullied online
  • Abuse and grooming (when someone builds a relationship with a child to exploit or abuse them)
  • Seeing inappropriate content
  • Not getting enough sleep and exercise

 

5 steps you can take to protect your child

1) Set parental controls on devices

Use parental controls to restrict access to in-app purchases and explicit or age-rated content, and, on some devices, how long they can spend on the device.

You’ll likely need to set a password. Make sure it’s different from the password used to access the device, and that your child doesn’t know it.

Parental controls are usually located under ‘Settings’.

 

2) Make sure your child is doing school work when they should be

Try to keep an eye on what they’re up to on devices during school time – make sure they’re actually using them for any work they’ve been set.

Some virus protection software packages include monitoring features, so check to see if yours has this.

You can also buy standalone monitoring apps. See this guide for more https://www.internetmatters.org/resources/monitoring-apps-parents-guide/  

 

3) Talk to your child about staying safe online

  • They should only talk to people they know and trust in real life – anyone can pretend to be a child online.
  • If they do talk to people they don’t know, don’t give away personal information – like what street they live on or where they go to school, or share their location with them. Say no to any requests they get for images or videos, and stop talking to the other person.
  • Set their profiles to private, to limit what others can see.
  • Be ‘share aware’ – think carefully about what they share and with who. Once it’s out there, they’ve got no control over what the other person does with it. Remember, it’s illegal to take, share or view sexual images of under-18s, full stop.
  • If they see something that upsets them, or someone bullies them, tell an adult they trust.

Don’t feel confident starting a conversation with your child about what they’re up to online? Read this advice from the NSPCC

https://www.nspcc.org.uk/keeping-children-safe/online-safety/talking-child-online-safety

4) Agree rules on screen time

There’s no recommended ‘safe’ amount of screen time, but you should try to avoid screens an hour before bedtime.

Agree some limits to stop screen time interfering with your child’s sleep or family activities

  • Make a plan together, and stick to it. You could set media-free times and zones, like during meals or in bedrooms.
  • Model the behaviour you want to see – which may mean no screen time for you at the times agreed with your child. Children are more likely to learn from example.
  • Try to minimise snacking during screen time.
  • Turn not using screens into a game, using apps like Forest, where not using devices is rewarded.

 

5) Encourage off-screen activities

Get your child active for the recommended 60 minutes a day

Develop your child’s communication and reading skills with the activities (for 0 to 5 year-olds) recommended here https://hungrylittleminds.campaign.gov.uk/