Computer Use For Kids – What are the rules in your home?

How much time do your kids spend in front of screens of one kind or another and is that time supervised? A recent report from the Children’s Commissioner, Anne Longfield, urges parents to tempt children to spend more time away from computers, tablets and smartphones. She supported the idea of teaching internet safety in schools and is quoted in the Mirror as saying: “We have to wise up to the reality of the digital world for children.”

There are certainly dangers associated with internet use and we would all perhaps like our children to spend a little more time playing the sort of games we ourselves but computers are also incredibly useful items that will no doubt support many of our kids’ future careers, so how do we strike a balance? Today’s post explores how the next generation is using computers, computer safety issues to be aware of and how small changes in the home can make things calmer for all.

Kids and screen use

We’re all spending more time online and for the most part, kids are very comfortable in the virtual world. Statistics from Ofcom show they prefer watching YouTube and on demand TV compared to more traditional TV screens but when using the internet there is a risk they will stumble over something that makes them feel uncomfortable. An EU kids online survey found that 48 per cent of children expressed that there were things online that upset children of their own age and 13 per cent of 9-16 year olds said they’d been bothered by something they’d seen online. Ten per cent of 8-15 year olds also said they’d seen something that made them feel sad, embarrassed or frightened. Many of us put parental controls in place on our home internet connections and kids’ smartphones but according to Commissioner Longfield up to 80 per cent of three to four year olds now have access to the web, so it might be time to be more aware of the privacy settings on your own smartphone and tablet if your little one enjoys watching the odd episode of Peppa Pig on them.

Understanding screen use

There are lots of ways you can help protect your children online and some are more obvious than others. You’re probably aware that you can set restrictions through your internet provider, but do you have parental controls in place on smartphones used by your kids too?

Being aware of how your children use the internet can really help you to understand potential risks because they’re likely to be a very different internet user from you. Social media platforms such as Facebook have a minimum user age of 13 years, but there’s technically nothing stopping kids mis-entering details so they can set up an account, though there is a mechanism to report profiles like this. We’ve all heard horror stories about kids adding friends to their social profiles who they’ve never met but there can be dangerous even if they’re only speaking with school friends. It’s easy to share photos on platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram that could identify personal details and then there’s the extra avenue of communication social media use affords bullies. When it comes to privacy and potential pitfalls, is your social media savviness up to scratch? Check out minormonitor for extra help.

It’s not just your kids you need to worry about either – their computer sessions could impact your bank balance and the security of your own personal details too. There’s barely a month goes by without a story appearing in the press about a child running up a large bill with an online gaming account or a warning about malware taking over PCs!

Protecting against the risks

First and foremost, it’s essential to talk to our kids about the internet and encourage sensible usage. Many families set a time limit on how much they all spend online, including the parents! If younger kids do want to use apps or watch TV on tablets, watch with them as you would do if it was a TV. As they get older and kids get more protective of their privacy, things can get trickier. For peace of mind you may want to keep the family PC downstairs. If kids object to noise interrupting them while they do homework on the computer, you could compromise by sectioning off part of a room with internal bi-fold doors. These from Vufold can be folded back easily or you can take a sneaky peek at the screen without interrupting the kids. The topic of social media use can be a hot potato for some families as many kids don’t want to feel excluded from platforms their peers are using. Before you say yes or no to their use, make sure you’re familiar with the platform yourselves including the functionality and any privacy and security risk – these things take off so quickly it can be hard to keep track of what’s trendy and what’s not, so keep an ear open for any new mentions!

How do you handle screen use in your home? Do you have the family PC somewhere you can see? Is there a maximum amount of time your little ones are permitted to spend online or do you find things tend to balance themselves?



  1. Idaintyit
    4th March 2016 / 4:53 pm

    My son is only 3 so we aren’t worrying about this just yet. The only thing he uses the internet for is watching mickey mouse on you tube on my phone lol I am worried for when he gets older though but cross that bridge when I come to it

    • admin
      4th March 2016 / 7:26 pm

      My Daughter is 12 so it is a topic that does worry us, we do have parental controls and we do random checks on her but she is good and it is just general chit chat with friends or drawing thankfully

  2. 6th March 2016 / 5:22 pm

    I don’t have any kids but one thing I do know is that the screen would have to be in plain view so I could see it. I’m old school so I’m not into individual computers/smart phones for kids.

    • admin
      6th March 2016 / 6:46 pm

      We are very strict but do let her have her freedom so to speak, but she never knows when we will check, or what we will check, and she knows if we did find anything she would be in trouble. Even now if she isn’t sure she will ask. It is a tough one though

  3. 7th March 2016 / 4:11 pm

    It’s worrying, my stepson is 12 and wants Facebook and Instagram but he is a very young 12 and at home with his mum his internet usage would not be monitored as all which is very scary indeed

    • admin
      7th March 2016 / 7:29 pm

      My Daughter does have a facebook account but my Dad uses it for his games she doesn’t really use it and I can log on at anytime to check anyway. She uses instagram and oovoo or something that sounds like that, or drawing apps. I can monitor the insagram as I am friends with her, oovoo is just for her and her friends to chat from, all you can here is loads of 12 year old girls talking and laughing I do check that regularly though, but with her being ill she is not really chatting much apart to her best friends x

  4. 10th March 2016 / 10:37 am

    Even going back 12-13 years when I was a young teenager I knew how to access things if I wanted to and now it must be even easier. We knew how to crack schools internet controls to get on social media and things so it can be done so easily. It must be really hard to control a child’s internet usage x

    • admin
      10th March 2016 / 11:43 am

      I know it can be done, and it is a huge worrying thing for any parent, luckily at the moment my Daughter is very good with her usage and what she does and if she adds someone else she always asks or tells me as they are a friend from school.

  5. 10th March 2016 / 8:47 pm

    I don’t have rules but I need some as that’s all they seem to do these days I have noticed they are on them a lot more so rules coming up

    • admin
      10th March 2016 / 9:37 pm

      It is scary when you suddenly realise they are spending far too much time on them x

  6. Fashion and Style Police
    10th March 2016 / 10:05 pm

    Great post. I don’t have to bother too much with computers with my kids being toddlers.

    • admin
      11th March 2016 / 10:38 am

      Thank you, it is something that you suddenly wake up one day and realise just how much they use the internet and you need to think about what they are doing on it x

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