Help with limiting screen time while working at home
Dear parents / carers,
During any long period away from school it is understandable that you may be a bit concerned about 'screen-time' and any detrimenta effect this may have. Read on for some advice and guidance:
Your child’s screen time If there’s a school closure or self-isolation due to coronavirus (COVID-19), your child will likely be spending more time on devices than usual, especially if doing remote learning.
Know the risks, and what you can do to keep your child safe.
What’s the problem?
Spending time online and on devices can be a positive thing. But, higher screen time can put your child more at risk of:
- Being bullied online
- Abuse and grooming (when someone builds a relationship with a child to exploit or abuse them)
- Seeing inappropriate content
- Not getting enough sleep and exercise
5 steps you can take to protect your child
1) Set parental controls on devices Use parental controls to restrict access to in-app purchases and explicit or age-rated content, and, on some devices, how long they can spend on the device. You’ll likely need to set a password. Make sure it’s different from the password used to access the device, and that your child doesn’t know it. Parental controls are usually located under ‘Settings’. See below for more detailed instructions for different devices.
2) Make sure they’re doing school work when they should be Try to keep an eye on what they’re up to on devices during school time – make sure they’re actually using them for any work they’ve been set. Some virus protection software packages include monitoring features, so check to see if yours has this. You can also buy standalone monitoring apps. See this guide for more: https://www.internetmatters.org/resources/monitoring-apps-parents-guide/
3) Talk to your child about staying safe online Tell them: They should only talk to people they know and trust in real life – anyone can pretend to be a child online If they do talk to people they don’t know, don’t give away personal information – like what street they live on or where they go to school, or share their location with them. Say no to any requests they get for images or videos, and stop talking to the other person
3) Set their profiles to private, to limit what others can see Be ‘share aware’ – think carefully about what they share and with who. Once it’s out there, they’ve got no control over what the other person does with it.
Read this advice from the NSPCC: https://www.nspcc.org.uk/keeping-children-safe/onlinesafety/talking-child-online-safety
4) Agree rules on screen time There’s no recommended ‘safe’ amount of screen time, but you should try to avoid screens an hour before bedtime. Agree some limits to stop screen time interfering with your child’s sleep or family activities:
Make a plan together, and stick to it. You could set media-free times and zones, like during meals or in bedrooms Model the behaviour you want to see – which may mean no screen time for you at the times agreed with your child. Children are more likely to learn from example
Try to minimise snacking during screen time Turn not using screens into a game, using apps like Forest, where not using devices is rewarded
5) Encourage off-screen activities Get your child active for the recommended 60 minutes a day: See www.nhs.uk/change4life/activities for free ideas for activities and games
Try an app that’s designed to get children active – see the examples at www.internetmatters.org/resources/apps-guide/apps-to-help-kids-get-active/
Build in screen breaks if they’re doing school work at home. 5 to 10 minutes every hour should help. They could take a break to get a drink of water, look out of the window for a few minutes, or do some easy exercises like neck rotations and forward bends
Develop your child’s communication and reading skills with the activities (for 0 to 5 year-olds) recommended here: https://hungrylittleminds.campaign.gov.uk
This factsheet was produced by Safeguarding Training Centre from The Key: www.thekeysupport.com/safeguarding Manage devices, apps & screen time, Google for Families Help https://support.google.com/families/topic/7336331?hl=en&ref_topic=6149867 Should visual display unit (VDU) users be given breaks?, HSE https://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/faqs/vdubreaks.htm Guidelines issued on activity and screen time for babies and toddlers, NHS https://www.nhs.uk/news/pregnancy-and-child/who-guidelines-screen-time/ Physical activity guidelines for children and young people, NHS https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/physical-activity-guidelines-children-and-young-people/ Share Aware resources for schools and teachers, NSPCC Learning (scroll down to the parent’s leaflet in the grey box) https://learning.nspcc.org.uk/research-resources/schools/share-aware-teaching/ The health impacts of screen time: a guide for clinicians and parents, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health https://www.rcpch.ac.uk/resources/health-impacts-screen-time-guide-clinicians-parents Sexting in schools and colleges, UK Council for Internet Safety https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/sexting-in-schools-and-colleges