New studies show that children of all ages who use the Internet tend to read more and watch less television but a veteran clinical psychologist suggests parental guidance.
“Children who use the internet appear to spend less time watching television; more time reading newspapers, magazines and books; more time playing outdoors; and more time doing arts and crafts than they did before they started using the internet from home,” the National School Boards Foundation (NSBF) found.
Specifically, the NSBF found that:
· 37% of all parents whose children use the Internet report that their children’s television watching has decreased since they began using the Internet at home, compared to 5 percent who say it has increased.
· 30 % of all parents whose children use the internet report that their children spend more time reading books since they began using the internet, compared to 14 percent who say their children spend less time.
In light of these findings, it is not surprising that home-schooling parents and their children use the Internet a lot but so do many other families. The NTSB found that about half of the parents who hooked up to the Internet did so for educational reasons.
“Parents need to stay informed and vigilant about their children’s activities,” clinical psychologist Ruth A. Peters writes in the November issue of Consumers’ Research magazine. “But no matter your circumstances or those of your young ones, you can help your child experience the best of the Internet while protecting him or her from the worst.”
Among the best Internet resources, Peters points to the Discovery Channel School, KidsAstronomy.com, National Geographic, Time for Kids and AOL@ school. To guard against the worst Internet offerings, Peters suggests that families ask their software servers about parental controls, online timers, activity trackers and online protection.
Peters does not even object to children using their internet time to play games, provided they are age-appropriate. “The best way to set limits is to make Internet playtime a privilege or reward available only after other duties—homework, chores, practicing an instrument, getting exercise—are accomplished,” Peters writes.
“And set a time limit for being online.”