SafetyNet Step 9:
Limit time spent online
Time limits keep your children from spending too much time online
and from accessing the Internet at inappropriate times, such as when they should be
sleeping or studying. Blocking Internet access does not mean that you have to turn off the
computer. The easiest way to limit Net time is to use a software package like Cyber Patrol
to prevent Internet access during specified time periods. With such software, for example,
you could block online access from 8:00 PM to 7:00 AM every day, while leaving other
programs, like word processors, still functional for homework assignments.
Restricting access to certain blocks of time helps children avoid
becoming "addicted" to the Internet. Some software packages allow you to limit
access to a given number of hours per week. The advantage of setting, say, a limit of five
hours per week instead of one hour per day, is that a child may need more than an hour to
download a file or finish a game.
While psychologists debate whether Internet Addiction Disorder
is truly an addiction, the phenomena is unquestioned. Many children (and adults)
have dropped out of school or normal social life to chat, play online games or other
activities for long hours every day.
Restricting access to certain time frames during the day also
helps with parental oversight. By allowing your children on the Net only when you are
around and apt to walk in and see whatever is on the screen, you reduce their temptation
to view inappropriate material. Children online at 1:00 AM may feel much less inhibited
because they know that sleeping parents are unlikely to catch them in the act.