Young people are accessing the internet at earlier ages for everything from schooling to entertainment and communication. Being a parent in today's world of fast-paced technological advances is not always easy and it is often difficult to know how to help our young ones manage their screen time.

The Australian Government eSafety Commissioner has produced a range of tools to help parents understand (click here to access advice and information for parents) and navigate these matters including these seven tips to help you manage your child's screen time.

The following content has been produced and made public by the Australian Government eSafety Commissioner. We have also provided a downloadable PDF should you wish to print or share this resource - click here to download.

There is a lot of conflicting advice and emerging research around screen time. However, the right amount of screen time can depend on a range of factors like your child’s age and maturity, the type of content they are consuming, their learning needs and your family routine. It can be easy to focus only on the clock and how long your child is spending in front of the screen, but the quality and nature of what they are doing online, and your involvement are just as important.

Consider your child’s screen use in the context of their overall health and wellbeing – for example, is online time getting in the way of their sleep and exercise? Is it impacting on their face-to-face connections with family and friends? The answers to these questions will guide you and help strike the right balance of online and offline activities for your child.

1. Be involved.

Sharing screen time and online activities like gaming with your child helps you gauge the appropriateness of what they are doing and manage potential risks. It’s also a great way to start conversations with your child about their online experiences.

2. Work with your child to set boundaries for screen use.

If you decide that setting screen time limits is right for you and your child, discuss these new rules with your child. Older children are more likely to cooperate if they have been part of the decision-making process. Colourful pictures or charts of daily limits and other important activities is a fun way to get younger children on board.

3. Be clear about the consequences of not switching off.

Part of our role as parents is to set clear limitations and boundaries. The same applies to technology limitations so, being clear and consistent about the consequences for your child if they do not stick to these rules is paramount. The Raising Children Network provides some useful tools and advice.

4. Set device-free zones and times at home.

Device-free zones can help you manage your family’s digital use. Here are some ideas for setting digital boundaries within your home:

  • no devices in the bedroom for younger children
  • all screens off in bedrooms after a certain time for older children
  • all screens off at least one hour before planned bedtime
  • all family members switch off at dinner time
  • charge devices overnight in a place your child cannot access

5. Ask your child to explain their screen use.

Get your child in the habit of explaining why they want to be in front of a screen or online. It’s a great way to get them thinking about their own digital habits and balancing screen time with other activities.

6. Use tech tools to help manage access.

There are robust products and device functions which allow you to see which apps are being used in your home and for how long. But try not to use these tools to secretly monitor your child. Instead, be open about the process and check the whole family’s usage, including your own. Start with Google Family Link for Android devices or parental controls and Screen Time for iPhone/iPad.

7. Lead by example.

Your behaviour is one of the most effective ways to help your child develop a positive digital mindset. Show your child you can put down your device too.

If you’d like to learn more about how to keep your family safe online visit the Australian Government eSafety Commissioner website today. Also, feel free to download these great resources as well:

Online safety for pre-school children.

Early years eSafety booklet.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a crisis please call 13 11 14, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week or text 0477 13 11 14 between 6pm and midnight 7 days a week.

For all other enquiries you can contact Lifeline Darling Downs on 1300 991 443.