1. Parenting

Readers Respond: How Do You Limit Computer Time for Your Kids?

Responses: 9


Most of us recognize that we need to limit computer time for our kids. Too much time online or playing games can cut into other activities that are important for their development. But how do you set boundaries and let them know when their time is up? Please share what has (or hasn't) worked for you.

what is with you people!!!

you write about limiting as if the computer is a beast that must be controlled, the computer will not kill you if you are on for 5 hours a day who knows it might actually make your child smarter (personally i just tell people to find a balance for themselves and the amount of physical work you do and using the computer. i am tired of old people calling the computer the devil, i would rather have my child use the computer as free as possible but somewhat monitored and have some trust between us than subdue the child like a criminal only to find the kid on all the wrong stuff when unsupervised (you know what i mean). i am really disappointed on how abnormal people view modern technology when it its use should be compared to that of a book (although to be fair there were times long long ago when people viewed books as heresy) ***Note from editor: Thanks for your opinion. The idea isn't that the computer is the "devil." It's that kids don't yet know how to balance their activities to find a healthy lifestyle. Guiding them is the role of the parent, which sometimes means setting boundaries. Five hours a day may not kill them, but it will ensure they don't have time for other things, like exercise, homework, and hanging out with friends. Regardless of how much time works for your family, it's still likely you'll eventually have to set a limit. This space is is here so we can share ideas on how to set limits, whatever they may be.
—Guest chris Popa

learning = earning

My girls earn computer play time (includes Wii, handhelds & lap tops) by how much time they put in learning. The earning is on a per day basis and there is no carry over. So, many days they get into learning and run out of time for playing. Furthermore, we spend so much time away, they simply miss out on play time. And other times, they are truly pleased to have earned time for playing on the road.

As for teenagers...

We used to have a lot of rows with my son, before we agreed to install, what I persuaded him to be a time manager. The program is called Time Boss, it allows me to limit time of use of certain sites to some short periods, but lets the boy normally do his homework, using the internet. It does not interfere with my anti viruses, but supports IE only. Now the company offer us a new version (2.47) with included licenses for 3 computer, so I consider I;ll take it for my younger and for our daddy;s laptop (just to be on the safe side))) The program is available here: http://www.nicekit.com/

Token-Based Reward System

There is another package, ComputerTime, it does cost a bit ($40 for 1pc or $50 for Family Pack which works across multiple computers) It allows you to setup schedules for each day, it also allows you to allot the time by either Day, Week, or Month, so you can give your child 20 Hours of computer time a month, but it also allows for the use of Tokens that will grant extra time. It also provides you the ability to control the time of day that the children are able to log onto the PC. It has a 14-day Evaluation, which I just started, but I will probably be purchasing this for my family, as each of my children have their own laptops, but sometimes they go on mine or my wives laptop. With this program, their alloted time on the computer is what they get, regardless of which computer they log on to. I don't think the trial version allows for the networked/server setup, but it may. I need to find out what happens if the computer/laptop they are on cannot reach the time-server.
—Guest ExSlyder

Using AlaTimer

We have twins that share one computer. They were obviously fighting for their time on the computer and could never share equally, never mind limit their use. For the past three years we use AlaTimer, a shareware software which allows us to set their maximum usage time by the minute. When their time expires Fredy Flintstone pops up and asks them to save their work and log off, or else Fredy will do it on their behalf. It works very well for the kids and we have peace and quiet too :)

30 minutes at a time

I limit computer time to 30 minutes at a time. On school days it's one time a day (not including homework). On weekends and in summer they can have 30 minutes twice a day but not 60 minutes at a time. I let the kids keep track of the time themselves. They use the kitchen timer. If you go over your time without special permission (and the next person waiting will surely tattle if you do) that amount of time comes off your next session. And if you're constantly pestering me for extra time, the likelihood of me saying yes decreases significantly.


Mamatech, I don't think you're too strict at all. There are too many things that kids should be doing and if they're on the computer for hours a day, think about all that they're missing out on. They'll get 8 hours a day on a computer when they get "adult jobs". They should be playing for now, outside, and with friends! ;-) (edited)
—Guest Mark S

Computer time limits for 5-year-old

Our kindergartner gets about 30 minutes, 3 times a week (at home; there's computer time at school too). She knows when we warn her should could "lose privileges" that computer time is usually the first thing on the list. But the 30 minutes is a little loose -- we always let her finish up what she's in the middle of. I always wonder if we're too strict.

Chores for Computer Time

Doing chores to earn computer time can be effective in keeping kids from being on the computer all the time.

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