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Health Tips for Parents

2008 Issues

How much time should kids spend online?


Health Tips for Parents 2008 Issues: How much time should kids spend online?Websites, which appeal to children of every age from toddlers to teens, can be educational and fun. However, parents of school-aged children must stay vigilant to guide their children through the potential hazards of the virtual world.

Virginia Barrow, MD, a pediatrician at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA, notes, “Up until about age 10, a parent should be closely monitoring a child as he or she goes online.”

Children need to understand some basic realities about the web. Under no circumstances should a child ever reveal his or her name, the name of friends or any personal information, such as an address, phone number or even which school he or she attends. Once information is online, it can potentially be shared with the world. “Also, children need to understand that they may be chatting with people who are pretending to be someone they are not,” Dr. Barrow says. Similarly, it is not okay for children to pretend they are someone else.

Making a typing error can result in landing on an unintended website. “Review the websites your children are interested in to determine whether the content is appropriate, and filter out language and functions that may not be age appropriate,” Dr. Barrow says.

While the web is a great source of information, it is also a tremendous source of misinformation. Parents can research and present legitimate online resources to their children, and warn them that not everything they read online is true. By creating boundaries in early childhood and keeping an open dialogue, parents can help their children grow to be Internet savvy and safe online.

Oct 2008 Health Tips Issue: How much time should kids spend online?Quick Tips 

Create Bookmarks - Select bookmarks of pre-approved websites and show children how to select each site. In doing so, they will not end up on a strange website after typing in key words in a search engine.

Install filters – Many websites have filters, enabling parents to set limits on their child’s access. Computer software is also available.

Keep a close eye – Discuss which websites your child wants to visit and supervise their computer time. Computers should be located in a family area and not in a child’s bedroom.

Help your child develop good computer habits by following the guidelines below:

  • Set time limits (no more than one to two hours for young children)
  • Set firm rules about computer use
  • Review websites
  • Set parental settings

This information is provided courtesy of the pediatricians at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA. UCLA Health pediatricians are conveniently located in your neighborhood. In addition to our Children’s Health Center in Westwood, we have offices in Brentwood, Culver City, Manhattan Beach, Santa Monica and West Los Angeles.

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