Internet addiction. This is something you and I can relate to in this day and age, right? Because it really isn’t just a teenager issue. It is an everyone-with-a-computer issue. Because who am I to blame teenagers when I’m just as guilty of the crime. This week, I might have spent around 40 hours on my desktop computer at work, 10 hours binge-watching Breaking Bad and maybe 10 hours more on casual social media scrolling.
Your children, however, don’t need to live this 9-to-5er life where they are just as enslaved by the internet as they are by the system. Draw the line where their internet usage starts to take over healthier activities and starts detraining their wellbeing. You’ll know it has occurred when your child
- Spends more than 8 hours on the internet daily
- Would rather spend time inside than out
- Become reclusive
- Compromises school/grades for time spent on the computer.
Drawing the line, in this case means setting a cyber-curfew. Let me tell you how.
Calculate their Average Internet Time
Play detective and figure out how much time your kids are spending on the internet for both constructive and casual purposes. Notice how much time they spend on the internet for
- Informative reading
- Social networking
- Watching videos/TV shows/movies
- Creative purposes—writing, graphic designing, blogging etc.
Once you know of their internet using patterns, you can prioritize and redistribute their time. A little more time spend on informative reading and creative purposes, and a little less social networking. Save around 4 hours a day wasted on pointless scrolling and allocated it for an offline activity—like sports, or chores or volunteering.
Setting No Internet Zones
You need to set certain rooms/areas in your house as the no-tech zones. I would suggest that this be your dining table and living room. Encourage your children to eat at the table with the family and without their devices.
Play the stacking game where everyone must stack their phones in the middle of the table at dinner. The first to touch their phone has to do the dishes. The living room, too, should be a place where the family comes together to have meaningful conversations. Keep this place internet free as well.
The 3-Hour Break Rule
To make sure your kid doesn’t fall into the same pitfall, develop a system. If you notice that they’ve been on the internet for more than 3 hours, enforce that they take a break to something offline—take a walk, do some exercise, read a book. Once they’ve completed the offline task, they can resume with their digital dispositions.
Make these Practices the Norm
These rules shouldn’t merely be nuances that are to be hung up once the goal is achieved. These should be seen as habits, norms that should be part of your routine. So it’s probably more important that you enforce this cyber-curfew as rigorously as you can.
Remember, cyber-curfews wouldn’t work if the time saved isn’t being exchanged on healthier activities. As long as you’re subbing internet hours for something productive, you’re doing digital parenting just right.