COVD-19 has brought on a significant amount of challenges for families everywhere. In some ways, even though you are spending more time together it is actually more difficult to monitor and protect your children. This is mainly because the use of the internet has understandably skyrocketed as people use it for entertainment, school, work and more. If you are a parent who is struggling to find that “perfect balance” of screen time for your children, try to not to stress yourself out too much. These are unprecedented times and it is important and necessary for you to do whatever is best for your family.
With all of this being said, it is a good idea to place more attention on your children’s internet safety. Unfortunately, the increase in internet use among children can lead to a higher risk of cyberbullying. While this can feel scary and perhaps a little daunting for many parents, there are some specific measures you can take to ensure your children are safe online.
- Set the stage for open communication. Position yourself as a non-judgmental resource for your children, who will inevitably have questions and concerns about the internet. This will help them trust that you are an ally, which may encourage them to report any cyberbullying or other internet concerns faster, giving you the opportunity to respond quickly.
- Monitor your children’s internet use. These days children may be left alone to their own devices more frequently, which is why maintaining a certain level of digital awareness is key. Encourage them to spend their online time sitting on the couch or kitchen table surrounded by family. Consider creating a common space in the house where the entire family does the majority of their online activity together, if possible. You can also check out various kinds of software and apps for tracking and/or restricting the content your children are exposed to online.
- Set boundaries. This may involve carefully balancing out online versus in-person time. Treat the boundaries as an opportunity for family-time so you can unplug and be together. It may be important to remove devices during mealtimes and overnight, for example, as children of all ages can struggle to moderate screen time without assistance. This will help prevent the overuse of screens while also maintaining a strong connection within your family.
- Observe your children’s behavior. Keep an eye out for signs that your children may be being bullied. Some clues could include a decline in grades, a change in eating and/or sleeping habits and increased physical complaints such as head and stomach aches.
- Have an online therapy visit. If you do notice that your children are withdrawn or struggling in some way, you can schedule a visit with a certified therapist or psychologist on LiveHealth Online. They can see children ages 10 and older.
Try to remember that, even if the increased screen time has left you feeling uneasy, you have the support and resources available to help manage this difficult time.