Ask an Expert: How do I limit my child’s time online without damaging trust?

How can I effectively limit the time my 12-year-old daughter spends online and monitor usage without seeming like big brother (the 1984 kind) and damaging mother-daughter trust boundaries.

I also think schools don’t do enough to educate teens, and pre-teens in particular, about internet and social media use. This is compounded by some school’s BYO technology requirement which effectively means that every kid has a laptop. The focus is always on cyber-bullying – what about the damage to reputations and the guilt and regret kids will face as they grow up and look back at the stuff they posted online that cannot be erased?

I think it is very fair to insist on time limits as part of your child’s privilege of being able to use the Internet. We need to teach our kids that although they are using it at much younger ages and as part of their curriculum, we still need to insist on rules and boundaries around its use. At 12, our kids still don’t have the maturity and experience to safely navigate the online world without monitoring and teaching. I don’t believe you need to follow everything she is doing, but it is perfectly acceptable at that age for her to expect you to do a level of monitoring that has nothing to do with mother-daughter trust, but rather more to do with teaching, protecting, caring and keeping safe.

Keeping an open dialogue with your daughter about the sorts of things that she is doing is very important but needs to be done in a way that is more conversation, rather than lecturing. Whatever time limit you believe is feasible, however, is something that needs to be adhered to in order to ensure you maintain an element of control. I have recently written an article on things to be aware of with the BYOD programs in schools as well as numerous posts on keeping kids safe without keeping an eye on every little thing they do. In essence, we must teach our children early the social skills and behaviours that will allow them to be responsible digital citizens and remain in control of the technology that they use.

BYOD to the classroom: helping or hindering our kids learning?

Teach your kids to be safe on social networks: don’t rely on safe sites, settings, banning and blocking

4 things I do everyday to keep my kids safe online

Martine Oglethorpe, cyber safety consultant, family counsellor, speaker on parenting with technology,

Our Ask an Expert Week panelists are all qualified professionals in their field. However, advice given on The Kids Are All Right website is not a substitute for direct, personal, professional counselling or psychological care, medical care and diagnosis.

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  1. I have two kids and just limit the online time with just one computer and setup something with specify user for each of them. One or two hours a day, it would be good for them.
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