Worried your kids are spending too much time online? BT has a solution

Stay on top of their screen time

What's the biggest argument you have with your kids? We can think of a few contenders for a debate – eating too many treats, not doing homework and avoiding brushing teeth to name but three. But in recent times, possibly the biggest friction is caused by the use of tablets and phones.

It's a sensitive subject, But BT hopes to put an end to the shouting and sulking – or at the very least, keep a reign on things – with its new and free wifi controls. Available if you have a Smart Hub 2, the feature gives you the power to pause etc internet at home, and control up to 15 individual devices, from smart TVs and speakers to tablets and laptops.

Related: BT Complete Wifi – is it worth switching from your existing provider?

living room with velvet sofa and wooden flooring

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

 Using the BT app, you can set which devices can be online when, and pause the internet on certain devices – for example, if you suspect your youngsters are online when they should be in the land on nod!

'Sometimes children need a break from their devices and, combined with conversations about healthy and unhealthy screen time habits, BT’s new Wi-Fi Controls feature will help families set positive tech boundaries,' says Carolyn Bunting, Chief Executive of Internet Matters.

'One size doesn’t fit all, so setting up groups of devices that can be online at different times will help parents balance different screen time needs. Involving children in the process of setting age appropriate limits on how long they can spend online, at what times and on which platforms, is the best way of making sure they have a healthy mix of screen activity.'

Six tips for a healthy screen time balance for your kids

children's white bedroom with turquoise bed with carpet flooring

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

1. Set a good example

Not surprisingly, if your kids see that you are constantly glued to your phone, they are going to think that's OK. Lead by example and show them you limit your screen time. Then they are much more likely to do the same.

2. Talk to your children about what they think is appropriate

Set boundaries with your kids rather than for them. Talk about why having an age appropriate limit is important, and encourage a dialogue about how long they should be spending online, when they should be online and which platforms are suitable for them. As they get older, let them take more responsibility for these decisions.

Related: How to make the internet faster and boost your broadband speed

3. Set up screen free rooms or times

And make sure no one – not even Mum and Dad – can break the rules! Perhaps you put a blanket ban on phones at the dinner table, or say the laving room is a no-tablet zone. It might be an old adage, but 'out of sight, out of mind' still applies in the 22st Century.

4. Balance screen time with other activities

Just as the occasional chocolate treats fine as part of a balanced diet, the same is true of screen time. Make sure it's just part of your kids' lifestyle, mixed in with sports and creative play, spending time with friends and family, and education.

5. Don't use screen time as a reward

It will only leave them wanting more.

6. No screens at bedtime

Sleep is crucially important, and allowing access to screens at bedtime is asking for trouble as the blue light they emit will keep your kids awake.

Amy Cutmore

Amy Cutmore is an experienced interiors editor and writer, who has worked on titles including Ideal Home, Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, GardeningEtc, Top Ten Reviews and Country Life. And she's a winner of the PPA's Digital Content Leader of the Year. A homes journalist for two decades, she has a strong background in technology and appliances, and has a small portfolio of rental properties, so can offer advice to renters and rentees, alike.