Although computers are incredibly useful tools, they can also be addictive. Many children have the problem of spending too much time on the computer, which can be frustrating for you as a parent. Computer addiction has been described as almost as powerful as a drug addiction, and excessive computer use by your child could lead to more serious problems in the long run. Help your child overcome his own addiction by setting limits on computer use, talking to him, and helping him find alternative activities.
Method 1 of 4: Limit time on the computer
Step 1. Set a password for the computer that only you know
Your child will have to ask you to log into the computer in order to use it. This will work particularly well if your child is younger and doesn't need a computer to do homework, but it can also be used for older children if their addiction is particularly severe.
If you are not going to be home, you have the option to change the password daily and send it to him remotely once you are ready to give him access
Step 2. Set up parental controls on the computer
You may be concerned that your child will use the computer while you are not at home. However, you can configure parental controls by limiting the web pages it can access. You can edit these control settings on your router, in Windows, or through a third-party website like Norton.
Step 3. Allow him to spend time on the computer only after he has completed other activities
Teach your child to prioritize by asking him to complete chores and homework before using the computer in his spare time. Make a checklist of all chores or tasks to complete each day and post it on the refrigerator. Treat computer time as a privilege and not a right.
- You can also schedule family time or outdoor games that your child must complete before they can use the computer.
- Tell your child to finish everything on the list before using the computer in his spare time. When you get home every day, make sure everything is complete; otherwise, set consequences.
- Make sure the other parent or guardian agrees with the rules, expectations, and consequences.
Step 4. Create zones without computers
Only let your child use the computer in common areas, like the living room. Don't let her wear it in her room, or during dinner or family time.
- If possible, have a homework computer and one for entertainment so that you can be sure of what it does. Block any gaming or social media web page on computer for homework.
- If you are concerned about your child using the laptop in his room when you are not at home, lock up the charger or battery at night and give it to him when you get home from work.
Step 5. Set a time limit on computer use
Limit your child to using the computer for a maximum of 2 hours a day if he is over 2 years old. Children under 2 years old should not have access to any screen. Use this rule only when your child engages in non-school related activities. Set a timer so you know when to put your computer away.
- At first, you could give him a warning 15 minutes before announcing that his time is up.
- Once your child is old enough, teach him to manage his own time on the computer. For example, if your 10-year-old is playing computer games, teach him to set a timer with a 5-minute warning so he can finish the level and log out before the time runs out.
Method 2 of 4: Discuss Proper Computer Use
Step 1. Talk to your child about his excessive use of the computer
Find out if there is a specific reason why he spends so much time on the computer. Sometimes the computer can act as an escape from reality, especially if children are being bullied or struggling in school. If your child is facing problems that make him want to escape, address them with them through discussion, giving advice, or seeking help as needed.
- Listen to it without interrupting. There might be something he wants to share with you, so approach the conversation with a kind and caring demeanor.
- Children often do not notice when they engage in escapist or avoidant behaviors. You may need to bring up the idea as a possibility for your child to consider and have a few conversations about it.
Step 2. Set consequences
After talking with your child and evaluating what is happening with him, establish some ground rules for using the computer. Let him know that there are limits, that he can only use the computer for 2 hours a day for non-homework activities, and that there will be consequences if he doesn't follow the rules.
For example, if you catch him using the computer for longer than allowed, take it off for a day. Make him depend on textbooks to complete any assignment
Step 3. Follow the rules you set
When he breaks one of the rules regarding the computer, punish him immediately. Deferring punishment often results in the bad behavior being repeated. If you use the computer excessively or use it for other things during homework time, take it off immediately. If you catch him doing this a second time, take the computer away from him for 2 days instead of 1.
If he feels that his bad behavior will not be punished, then he will not care about the consequences and he could lose respect for you
Step 4. Be a good role model
Don't spend a lot of time using the computer around your child. This could make him resent you a bit if he sees that you do the same thing that you forbid him. Instead, be present when you are with him and make an effort to spend more time together.
Method 3 of 4: Finding Alternatives for Computer Use
Step 1. Suggest alternative activities
Play board games with him, take him to the library, or hang out with friends. If you've really gotten addicted, prepare for some very difficult days and weeks as your brain no longer gets its "fix" and has to reprogram itself. Although you can recommend other activities, your child may resist.
- Let your child choose the game or find out if they have any ideas for activities they would like to do.
- Encourage your child to read books, do crafts, or do other hands-on activities like building a robot or playing with Legos.
- Remember that it's okay to be bored, but this is healthy and encourages both creativity and relaxation.
Step 2. Spend family time without computers or phones
Spend family time every day completely unplugged. This includes telephones, computers, and televisions. Have family dinners regularly so you can catch up, connect, and laugh.
Plan a vacation that is completely tech-free
Step 3. Sign him up for an after school sports team
Find out if your child is interested in playing sports. If you isolate yourself and use the computer to replace friends, this will be a good way to connect with other people. Let him choose the sport, instead of forcing him to practice a specific one.
Alternatively, your child can learn to play a musical instrument or participate in another extracurricular activity
Step 4. Encourage him to join clubs or organizations
Ask him what clubs or organizations his school offers. This will provide you with another way to meet people and develop new hobbies and interests.
- You could say, “So you mentioned there is an art club on campus and I know you look up a lot of art online. Have you thought about joining? It doesn't bother me to pick you up later on the days they meet”.
- Many communities also have board game leagues with age-appropriate interactive games like Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh! that children from 5 years old can play.
Step 5. Seek professional help as needed
If your child does not seem to let go of the addiction or is reacting very aggressively or emotionally to these new rules, then seek professional help for him. There are many therapists who specialize in helping you overcome addictions, so look for a few in your area.
Method 4 of 4: Recognize the Signs of Computer Addiction
Step 1. Notice if your child isolates himself
A computer addiction can cause children to isolate themselves from family and friends. Take into account your child's social life and pay attention to the amount of time he spends alone using the computer. If you rarely interact with others in person and decline invitations to continue using the computer, you could have an addiction.
Step 2. Pay attention to how your child handles responsibilities
If your child avoids completing chores or homework in favor of the computer, he could have an addiction. Although many children would certainly rather play a computer game than do the dishes, this becomes a problem when the child completely neglects his responsibilities in order to continue using the computer.
Step 3. Determine if your child's sleeping habits are affected
Some children may stay up late at night to use the computer. Check and see if your child is on the computer when he should be sleeping. If you stay up too late frequently and neglect good sleep habits to use the computer, you could have an addiction.
Step 4. Take into account the time your child spends on the computer
Pay attention to how much time your child spends on the computer both at one time and the total amount per day. Children should not spend more than 2 hours using electronic devices, such as computers, tablets, or televisions, per day. If your child uses them for a significantly longer period of time, especially in one session, he could be addicted to the computer.
- Your child may react with anger when you take steps to end his addiction. Be prepared to deal with tantrums.
- Don't let your child replace all the time on the computer watching television or playing video games; You can also create addictions to these types of entertainment.