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Effective Parenting Skills: How To Set Appropriate Time Limits For Kids Watching TV, Surfing the Internet, Using Social

Updated on February 15, 2015

Kids Need Time Limits!


Is Your Child Always Watching TV or On the Computer?

The statistics are alarming. Many young children are suffering from Childhood Obesity and are contracting Diabetes at alarming rates.

There are several factors that fuel this growing epidemic such as the types of sugary foods kids eat and how much exercise they get on a regular basis.

As parents we want to make our children happy. We hate to see them sad and we often get them whatever they want so that they will be well-behaved and happy. Whether it is the newest video game or allowing them to spend a lot of time watching television or chatting on Facebook just to keep them busy, many parents often give-in to their child's desires.

That Parenting Style Is the Root of the Problem!

As parents, we need to step up to the plate and be attentive to our kids. Too many parents allow their kids unlimited access to media just to make them happy or to "get them out of their hair", and there are negative results from spending to much time online, playing games and watching television.

Many children that are overexposed to too much media are more likely to become depressed. We see many sad stories of children who become loners and spend most of their time in Virtual Reality, only to go shooting and harming other children in schools. When children play Violent Video Games for long periods of time they become desensitized and accept violence as normal. The same can be said for watching and listening to media that promotes casual sex and drug use.

Other concerns such as the physical health and well being of your children can be compromised by these anti-social behaviors. Children should have balance in all areas of their life, starting with balancing the amount of time that they are using stimulating media with other activities is a very important yet ignored factor while raising modern children in today's society.

How Much Time Do Your Children Spend In Front of A "Screen"?

How Much Time Does Your Child Spend at the Computer, Game System, or TV?

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Be a Parent...Not a Friend

Yes, it's great to be friends with your children but this should not outrank the importance of your role as a parent. As parents we have to guide our children, set limits for them and enforce the consequences for not following the limits.

Setting Time Limits for your children's use of Television, Internet and Gaming (such as Xbox360, PlayStation, etc.) are important for many reasons including their:

  • Physical Health
  • Mental Health
  • Education
  • Future

It may not be easy at first if your child is not used to having such limits placed on them, particularly in a single parent household. Even though it is not easy, that does not change the importance and value of starting and keeping these limits.

Your role as a parent should be loving and the best way to show your children the way you love them is to make sure that they are well-balanced and emotionally and physically healthy. Children can not make certain decisions by themselves and we need to rear them in the right direction.

Keep Your Kids Creative!

Think Outside the Box!
Think Outside the Box! | Source

How Can You Set Limits that Work?

All children are different and respond to rules differently. Some children easily follow rules without as much as a word while others will fight tooth and nail against the rules. The basics of making these Time Limits work are:

  • Make the Rules Fair and Realistic
  • Make them Transparent: Explain what and why the reasons for setting limits and rules.
  • Create Rewards and Sanctions for following or breaking the rules.
  • Be Consistent!

By following the guidelines above you will be able to create rules and limits that work without all the drama! Since all children are different, you may need to modify your approach and execution but the basics are the same for all parents who are looking for effective ways to raise their children. You may be surprised to see what your children and yourself are capable of when you make a conscious decision to lay down the rules!

Setting Up Limits and Rules

How do you go about setting up new Rules and Time Limits?

The first thing you need to do is Write Down what you think is appropriate amount of time for each media type and Create a Schedule.

Most Pediatricians and Child Professionals agree that 2-3 hours per day is the maximum recommended amount of time a child should be in front of a computer. The same time limits should apply for all forms of Media including Gaming and Television.

Once you have decided on the amount of time your child spends online and on other media types, you need to have a sit-down talk with them and explain that you are implementing new time limits. They may get angry or upset but they will be OK!

Remember, you are the parent and your role should be one that nurtures, instructs and corrects. Sometimes we don't like to but we have to be firm with our children and remind ourselves that someday they will be adults and will have to make their own decisions. When children learn that there are rules in life that need to be followed they will make better decisions as adults.

Children easily adapt to their environment and will eventually find other things to do to keep themselves entertained. If you need to, ask them what they think kids did before electricity was invented, which was not that long ago in reference to how long humans have been walking the earth!


Monitor Your Children

Once you have had the talk with your child you need to Monitor them and make sure that they are keeping the time limits.

If you think it will be difficult to monitor your children's activity, there are some tools you can use that take care of monitoring for you:

  • Set up Time Limits as the Administrator of your Computer. If you are not the Administrator, you should be! The Network Administrator on a computer controls all the accounts on the computer and you can set limits and monitor what your kids are doing online and what sites they can visit. As the Administrator, make sure that you keep your password secret and don't choose a password that they can guess!
  • Set Content Filters for your child's computer account. Setting up Web Content Filters as the Network Administrator is easy and very useful in blocking such things as pornography, adult content, violence, etc. You can select the filter manually or you can use Age-Appropriate Settings that are built into the program.
  • Monitor What They Do Online Using "Parental Controls". With Parental Controls you can manually type in what sites you want to allow or block. This is a great feature for parents who find out that there child has been on a site that got through the filters. Easily type in the site's URL in the Parental Controls "Block Sites" section and your child will be denied access the next time they try to go to the site.
  • Keep Computers, Televisions and Gaming Consoles Out of Bedrooms and In a Common Area of your house. This allows you to keep an eye on what they are doing and you will be able to enforce time limits and content limits better. Let's face it, most children will watch hours of TV or spend hours online and playing games if they have the opportunity.

Taking control as a parent is the most important aspect of setting rules and limits. If you do not maintain control then your children may take advantage of you and will not take you seriously.

Get Your Kids Reading!


Get Them Involved In Other Things Besides Media

Getting your kids to replace the time they used to spend on the computer, gaming console and television will help ease the tension and boredom. Here are some suggestions for things that are healthy and fun for your child that will build self-esteem and encourage a healthy lifestyle:

  • Join a Sport. Children that participate in sporting activities learn how to deal with others and how to be team players. The exercise involved with sports will help them to be healthier and they will have a better attitude and more energy.
  • Create a Reading Challenge with A Reward! Reading Challenges are a fun way to get your child reading books instead of being in front of a computer screen. Reading is important in childhood development because it inspires the imagination and increases comprehension and vocabulary. Studies show that children who read regularly do better in school. Create a realistic Challenge for your child and promise them a small reward if they finish all the required readings in the allotted time period.
  • Get Outside and Play! If you live in an area that is safe and has a place for children to play, get them going outdoors! Go for a walk, take a trip to the beach, whatever you can do to get outside and make the best of the weather.
  • Play Board Games like Chess! Playing Chess and other board games stimulate the child's mind and makes them have to think about strategies. This is also a great way to spend time together as a family!
  • Make Art! Doing art projects regardless of artistic ability is a great way to have fun and use your imagination. Woodworking, Gardening, Knitting and so many other arts and crafts can be fun and some kids can even make a little money selling their work!

There are so many things that your child can do without using a computer, television or gaming console. Invest in your child's overall well-being and future by being a role model in their life and challenging them to participate in activities that are creative, fun, and life-rewarding!

Active Children Have More Fun!


© 2012 JS Matthew


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    • J.S.Matthew profile imageAUTHOR

      JS Matthew 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Thank you for your comments. It is not always easy to keep kids on a schedule but it is worth it in the end as Drtruthman has noted above. School is coming soon so now is a great time to start getting ready! Glad this helps. Thanks for stopping by!


    • profile image

      Marcela Arnaut 

      7 years ago

      Hello J.S. Matthew,

      Nice article. I had to put my girls on a schedule as well because their time on the computer was getting out of hand and they were fighting for the use of it as well. During the summer I also allow them more time but now that they are returning to school I will cut back their time. Thanks for the reminder on this article!

    • Drtruthman profile image


      7 years ago from Harlingen, Texas

      All I can say is Praise God, my 4 kids are all grown now. the last years of their teens when video games were really making a splash it was tough but we did limit it and they turned out great and all of them have their own personal gaming consoles now but in their own homes and only as an occasional form of entertainment. Great Hub as useual. I voted UP interesting, awesome and useful. Lee

    • J.S.Matthew profile imageAUTHOR

      JS Matthew 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Thank you all for sharing your parenting experiences! I appreciate all your comments and I am trying to keep the pace with the 30/30 Hub Challenge, so I will not be able to respond to individual comments. I do appreciate you all taking the time to share! Thank you!


    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 

      7 years ago from Florida

      This is a great Hub for parents. I have a 16 yr old son who thinks I'm the meanest woman in the world because I limit him, and his friends' parents don't. I voted this UP, etc.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 

      7 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Offering alternatives to TV and computers is vry important. However, it mut be interesting for the kids so they will enjoy it.

    • wheelinallover profile image

      Dennis Thorgesen 

      7 years ago from Beatrice, Nebraska U.S.

      There was a time when five televisions ran 24 hours a day here. All on children's programs. The oldest child at the time was eight. This was while the children were young. Then and now they rarely pay attention to television while it is on. We have since dropped to one television and it doesn't run 12 hours a day, when it does no one pays attention. It is just background noise and light.

      We have had to severely limit computer time. No child is now allowed on a computer without adult supervision. Between viruses picked up on sites they had frequented, and deleting sometimes hours of work one of the adults had done it became a cost issue. We do have a video game problem which we are working on.

      It is a good thing spring is here because way less hours will be spent anywhere other than playing outside. All the children love the outdoors. It has been a problem keeping them indoors when the weather isn't healthy for them. Not a single one of them understand shoes or coats are needed when it is raining or snowing. Voted up and interesting.

    • BayAreaLawyer profile image


      7 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area

      My son can't get enough of video games, but luckily he loves to read as well.

    • algarveview profile image

      Joana e Bruno 

      7 years ago from Algarve, Portugal

      Hello, J.S., very nice rules, you are totally right, I haven't got to that stage yet with my kids (they are little still), but it is something that worries me without a doubt, especially the computer and internet ,mainly. But I think you have nice advices here and obviously I consider extremely important to get them involved in other things, as you mention. Will keep your advices in mind. Have a wonderful day!

    • Ardie profile image


      7 years ago from Neverland

      I am lucky in that my kids still don't get on the computer much at all. My oldest (11) would still rather be running around outside or riding her bike. I hope my addiction to the Internet doesn't rub off on them - ooooh. Great Hub as always JS!!

    • J.S.Matthew profile imageAUTHOR

      JS Matthew 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Hello ComfortB! Sounds like we have similar rules in place! My son (12) only plays Xbox on the weekends and I set the controls on the computer to be off by 9pm on school nights, as well as not allowing access until 9am so they son't go online before school. (My daughters are 14 and 16) When they have a day off from school we allow a little more use.

      We do love our kids and this is why we do what we do! I see so many parents out there that just want to make their kids happy and allow them total freedom just because they have "good kids". We really need to address this because it is becoming a huge problem and our children are not learning basic life instructions. I guess I am rambling so I will stop! Thanks for another insightful comment!


    • ComfortB profile image

      Comfort Babatola 

      7 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

      I use Parental control to limit what they do and where they go. I limit most of their computer time to weekends. On weekdays, all their computers shut-down at 10 p.m.

      My 15 yr old recently went on a school trip and had to call me from there to get the password in other to use one of the software on his computer. He must have been pretty embarrassed to do that, but it was necessary.

      There's a lot of danger out there. My 6 yr old is pretty much limited to & Nick Jr and is off to bed before dark.

      Just goes to show how much we love our kids.

      Thanks for sharing Matthew.


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