Social networking, blogging, online gaming, and other such activities have become an integral part of teenage culture in today’s digital age. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as it can add a lot to their mental development. However, it is often seen that kids fail to maintain a balance between their real world and online activities. This is where their digital privileges start becoming a problem. Stripping them off these privileges may seem like the easiest of solutions, but it’s certainly not the most effective. You don’t want your teen to start viewing you as some tyrannical oppressor. Instead, your focus should be on understanding the importance of time management for kids and learning some of the ways in which you can go about doing it.
The importance of online time management
It may become easier for you to commit yourself to the task of managing your teen’s time spent online through use of internet monitoring software and other means when you’re aware of its importance. While online, kids can get so engrossed in whatever it is that they’re doing that they lose track of time without even realizing it. This may lead to neglect of important tasks and activities such sleeping, completing homework, etc. It is also not uncommon to find children losing interest in what were once their hobbies. Reduced physical activity and giving more preference to virtual relationships over real-world relationships are also observed in internet-obsessed teens. In some cases, the teen may start displaying symptoms of internet addiction such as anxiety, moodiness, and even depression when away from their digital device.
How parents can deal with the issue
The implications of not managing the amount of time the teen spends online may have helped you to realize the importance of prevention and timely intervention.
The first and foremost thing that you need to do in order to solve the problem is to realize that it’s there. This may not be the trickiest part, as simple observation can make you aware of the problem, but still, it requires vigilance. Once you’re aware of the problem, consider your options. The most basic solution, though not the most effective, is to talk to the teen about the importance of time management and tell them that they are spending unhealthy amount of time on the internet, which may be affecting other aspects of their life. Since kids are not known for their comprehension and maturity, don’t be surprised to see a look of “so what?” on your kid. Another option that is more likely to work than the previous one is to set realistic rules for internet accessibility. Let your kids go online for a set duration of time on weekdays, and give them an hour or two extra on the weekends if you wish. Make sure they adhere to the rules strictly.
A digital solution to a digital problem
One tool that is likely to prove most effective when it comes to managing teens’ time spent online is monitoring software. They are available for pretty much all the popular digital devices, i.e. computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones, etc. By installing it on your teen’s device, you can not only keep a watch on their online activities, but also determine the time that they’ve been spending on it. Many monitoring software tools have the feature to add filters and set timers. Filters empower you by letting you block certain websites or keywords, whereas, timers allow you to specify the duration for which your young ones will have internet privileges.
Simply installing the monitoring software and letting kids know about its presence on their digital device may be enough to discourage them from indulging in online activities. They may not feel comfortable browsing the internet or using social networking platforms when they know that everything they do is being recorded and will be seen by their parents later.
Internet may be a wonderful thing, having lots of benefits, but if it’s not handled responsibly, it can become a problem. Make sure you understand these problems and do everything in your power to protect your young ones from it.