How to help your children maintain an online/offline balance with technology?

Since the beginning of July marked the start of Parental Advice Week, we were interested to see how we could help make the lives of parents that little bit easier. D-Link carried out some nationwide research to get an insight into parents’ observations of their children’s internet habits. With the school holidays approaching, we found that 84% of parents across the UK are aware that children are likely to be spending even more time online during this holiday, as opposed to participating in traditional outdoor activities.

It’s no secret that children having greater access to the internet is inevitable and can have its benefits, with schools increasingly using the internet as a way for students to stay connected from home. Keeping in mind having good internet skills is essential in today’s society with a large percentage of jobs needing computer skills.  Children can use the internet to aid learning, for example when they do not understand something in class, with the use of online videos and research. Additionally, it is helpful for children to be able to retain contact with friends who they may not get to see over the summer break.

However, the ubiquity of digital devices, especially those that are mobile, make it tempting for children to stay connected 24/7, therefore it is important for them to understand when to disconnect and have a digital detox. Too much screen time for children can lead to sleep difficulties, increased risk of obesity, cyber bullying and poor performance at school. Creating healthy habits with technology early on should help them strike the balance independently later in life.

With so much amount of time spent online, parents nowadays (71%) are in agreement that controlling internet access is the most beneficial method to positively influence their child’s behaviour. Our research found that traditional methods of influencing children’s’ behaviour, such as grounding (36%) and cancelling days out (52%) were said to no longer be effective. However, we also found that although restricting internet use is an effective tool, 38% of parents thought it could cause upset between parent and a child compared to 26% for grounding and 14% for cancelling a day out or social plans. This is a testament to how valuable screen time has become to children which further highlights the importance of managing this for the long term benefits.

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One way to create an online/offline balance is by using a D-Link router such as the EXO AC1750 Wi-Fi Router (DIR-869) This makes it easy to manage online activities as it features a number of parental controls that enable you to easily schedule an ‘internet curfew’ in your home, block/allow specific websites and/or devices, and monitor internet activity.

Using the router, you can implement rules such as having predetermined times where electronic devices are not allowed, such as family meal times or bed times. You could also create a specific time each week where the whole family has technology free time. This way, rather than children feeling this is a rule they have to follow they will see that everyone in the family is taking part in an activity together.

Furthermore, online time can be used as a reward or incentive; completing chores for instance can provide an allocation of free time for playing video games or watching pre-approved YouTube channels.

Ultimately, it is important to have an open and flexible communication about why children desire to spend so much time online. You can help open their eyes to the benefits of offline activities that can be equally enjoyable and more rewarding, to help implement a greater online/offline balance, and in turn strengthen the relationship between your child and you.

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