Do You Know What Your Kids Do Online? Irish expert says most parents don't. In this episode of Rearing To Go, Taragh Loughrey-Grant talks to DIT Early Childhood Education lecturer Jan Pettersen and Digital Dad blogger Gary Fogarty, and asks what more can parents do?

Five Things To Think About Screen Time:
Gary says limit screen time, while Jan reminds us that the positives of the Internet outweigh the negatives. If you’re concerned about screen time, here’s five things to think about:

1. Keep an eye on what your kids are doing online rather than tracking screen time
There is no magic number for screen time usage. People used to say 2 and 2 – no screens before two o'clock and no more than two hours. However, now parents are advised to focus on what their children are doing online, who they are interacting and how it affects their moods, behaviour and relationships.

Nurture a trust with your child so that if something happens online that they are uncomfortable with or worried about, they feel free to come to you.

Focus on what your children are doing online

2. Agree boundaries and limits with your children and stick to them
Explain to your children why boundaries and limits are being set. Talk about it and agree the boundaries together. Usually limits are set around the length of time on screens, when screens are shut down for the day, the places kids can and can’t use devices etc.

These boundaries vary depending on the age of the child, their personalities and abilities to look after themselves.

3. Lead by example – it’s hard to enforce boundaries if parents are always on devices
When you agree the boundaries with your child, you should follow them yourself. You are your children’s most meaningful role model.

If you are always on your device, then they will find it hard to accept the boundaries you place on them.

Sometimes you’ll have to explain there are different rules for adults and children but do explain why you’re not following the boundaries set down in the house.

Lead by example when it comes to screen time

4. Don’t use devices as baby-sitters!
It’s a really busy world and parents often find themselves in situations where we need to occupy children. It is really tempting just to hand over your phone or screen so that we can do other things.

It’s important to avoid giving your children screens all the time, rather allow them develop ways to occupy themselves on their own.

Don’t use devices as baby-sitters!

5. Get involved in your kid’s digital world, play the games, discover the characters, watch their social media etc.
Sit down with your children and find out what they are doing on screens, Play the games with them, get them to show you what they do, who they interact with and what matters to them when they are playing games.

For older children on social media, keep an eye on their accounts, keep their log in details and demand that you have access to their messaging apps.

For more great tips and advice about keeping your child safe online go to Webwise, the Irish Internet Safety Awareness Centre.