My oldest is 8, almost 9, he is officially a tween which means more independence and responsibility. We struggle with screen time just like most families and it just gets harder the older they get. Along with managing screen time, online safety is also a big deal. More time online results in more online safety concerns. I thought I’d share a few basic safety and screen time tips for tweens today.
Set Screen Time Limits
Anyone with kids knows that controlling screen time can be a huge battle. They always want more time and even if they deserve a reward, you know the negative effect additional screen time can have on their attitude and behavior. Right now we allow 30 minutes of iPad/computer time after their homework and chores are done on school nights. Some nights we are too busy with lessons or events and they don’t get any online time. We allow 2 hours on weekends. Of course, every family is different, you need to set the right time limits for your situation. Don’t be afraid to adjust or revisit your limits. For example, I’ll bend the rules if they want more time to play educational apps or websites.
Know All Passwords & Logins
Parents should know all passwords and logins for the devices, apps, and online accounts. Both boys still come to us to add apps and set up accounts, so it’s not a huge issue for us. I don’t have a great list of logins and passwords, though. I typically use my own screen name/email for logins so it’s easy to guess when I need to.
Have a central charging station or home for all tablets/phones at the end of the day. This prevents the temptation of sneaking online at night when they should be sleeping. Don’t ask me how I know this. 😉
Check Apps & Accounts
You should know their login information and have access to the devices after they’ve gone to bed (i.e. use a charging station in a central location), be sure to periodically check apps they use. I like to go in and check settings, look for messaging options, etc. I also suggest occasionally sitting with them when they are playing. Even if you approved an app that seems kid friendly and appropriate, you never know how updates change things or what kids can figure out to do.
Create contract about the types of games and apps they can use, who they can friend or chat with, screen time, etc. Basically, anything you should moderate with regards to online activities. This might sound overwhelming; how should you word it, what needs to be included, etc. Thankfully there is an awesome online tool that can help you create the contract. LifeLock and National PTA created The Smart Talk to help parents put internet rules in writing. The Smart Talk is an online tool designed to help parents empower their children to become smart digital citizens in an increasingly connected world.
- The Smart Talk engages kids and parents in an interactive experience, leading them through a guided conversation about online safety and privacy; screen time; apps and downloads; texting and calling; and social media and respect. The tool creates a printable contract to hold the parent and child accountable.
- The Smart Talk can be revisited to keep the conversation going and evolving as kids age and technology changes.
Head over to The Smart Talk and check it out for yourself. No need to worry about privacy because no information is saved. Just be sure to print the document once you create it and sign it together.
What safety and screen time tips would you add?
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.