Protect your child

Get tips and advice on things you can do to help your child make the most of their screen time and minimise online risks.

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Making the most of screen time

Assess how and where they use devices

  • Based on their routine, think about when and where they are using their device to establish when it would be better for them to unplug and focus on other activities. Generally, it is best not to be on devices right before bed or keep them in bedrooms as night.

Examine what they are doing online

  • Not all online activities are created equal – take the time to assess how particular activities that your child is doing can help or hinder their development as they grow.
    • Ask yourself – Is this activity helping my child achieve a goal, improve their development in a certain area, promote their sense of self, or build-up skills that will help them make smart choices as they grow?

    Look at your relationship with screens

    • Review your own relationship with screens to address how this may be affecting your digital use.
      • Is there anything that you can do in your interactions that will give them the confidence to build a healthier relationship with tech?
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More info

See our age-specific digital resilience toolkit created with our ambassador Dr Linda Papadopoulos to help your child make smarter and safer choices online.

See toolkit
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Use Childnet’s family agreement template to clear expectations for positive and safe internet use

See template

See Children’s Commissioner of England’s Digital 5 a day guide for families to promote a positive relationship with technology.

Conversations to have

  • Have discussions about the risks that they may face based on the activities they do online to help them build up their digital resilience and critical thinking.
  • For younger children, it’s important to talk about the online issues they may face as soon as they start using the internet. Using stories, apps or videos aimed at kids can be a great way to spark the conversation.
  • As children get older, it’s important to continually check in with them about what they are doing online. Older teens tend to feel that they have the balance of right when it comes to screen time but having a conversation about the physical effects of screen time may help them to self-regulate their screen time better to get the best out of it.

Practical ways to support children on screen time

Influence a change in how they use screens

  • Be aware of what they do online and specifically why they enjoy it to build up your awareness of the risks and rewards these activities can offer.
  • Model the behaviour that you’d like to see in them – children tend to do what you do, not necessarily what you say.
  • Actively engage with them on some of the activities they do online; whether it’s playing a game online together, watching their favourite vlogger or asking them about what their recent post.
  • Take time to unplug from tech as a family to encourage them to have a balanced view of using tech. Apps like Forest which build beautiful forests the longer you stay off devices are a great help.
  • Together find apps, site, and games that will help give kids a way to explore their passions, enhance their skills and discover their identity in a safe way.
  • Establish a family agreement together to manage expectations of how screens and online platforms should be used and why.
  • For younger children find ways to combine touchscreen use with creative or active play
  • Children’s screen time does not have to be passive, look for apps that encourage and complement physical activity.

Set some simple tools to manage screen time

  • Make use of parental control tools on their devices and the platforms they use to set digital boundaries together to ensure they get the best out of their screen time
  • Use night settings –  some phones have blue light filters to help reduce the amount of blue light given off by the screen during night-time hours which may help children sleep.
  • Switch off notifications on their phone to limit the distraction this can cause when they are doing other activities
  • Turn off autoplay on the platforms they use to help them self-regulate how long they spend on certain apps.
  • If your child is an Android user, you’ll be able to use the ‘Digital Wellbeing’ feature to review the time they spend on different apps on their phone.

Managing screen time on social media and video streaming apps

Watch this from Common Sense Media video to see how to turn off autoplay on popular platforms kids use.
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More info

Read the NSPCC’s guide to encourage your child to be ‘Share Aware

See Guide
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See 5 screen time tips for young kids from Common Sense Media

Watch video
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See our guide to active apps to help children make the most of their screen time, get moving and
develop healthy habits.

Use our five top tips to give your child’s smartphone or tablet a health check up to get it set up safe