With so much to worry about when kids go online, it’s easy to forget what a great resource the internet can be for them. Whether they’re studying something for school, helping out with a family project, or simply exploring their own interests, it can provide them with an invaluable research tool.
If you make sure they stay out of trouble, going online can give them great research skills and general knowledge which will help them in the years to come.
When children complain about not being allowed as much time as they want on the internet, there’s more than one way to handle the problem. Rather than simply limiting kids’ online activities to an hour or two a day, try to limit the amount of time they spend on different types of activity.
For instance, tell them that it’s okay to spend an extra hour at the computer if they’re researching a school project – they can prove what they’ve been doing by talking about it with you afterwards. If they work particularly hard, extra time doing ‘play’ activities online can be offered as a reward. This will not only encourage them to develop useful skills, it’ll get them into good habits for when they need to discipline their own computer use in adulthood.
Investigating personal projects may not seem as valuable as study, yet it can be important to character formation as well as to the development of your child’s general knowledge. If your children want time online for things like this, ask them questions about what they’re doing. Get involved.
This will allow you to check up on them and will also help them to better understand and remember what they’re learning. It will boost their confidence to be able to explain what they’ve learned to an adult.
When limiting kids’ online activities, don’t just think about how much they’re doing; think about what they’re doing. Encouraging them to use the internet in a positive way will give them such a good alternative to chat rooms and games that you may well find them studying even when they’re unsupervised!