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Growing Up Online

Digital technology - Tips for parents

Digital technology includes computers, laptops, smartphones, tablets, and any type of device that gets you online.

To help children or youth lower their risk of developing problems with digital technology, set guidelines for screen time in your home. How much you limit screen time depends on your child’s age, stage of development, and other needs.

Screen time

If you set limits for screen time, your child will be more likely to accept them as well. Set limits based on your child’s age and keep them fair.

If they don’t follow these limits, it’s important that the outcome is the same as what you told them it would be. For example, if they don’t stop when they’re supposed to, they lose some screen time the next day.

Have a family media plan to help your family be more aware of when children and youth are using or misusing digital technology. This plan includes goals, guidelines, and rules about the use of technology.

To help your child stay safe and develop healthy habits online, check what they look at and how they interact with others.

Family and other activity time

To help limit screen time, turn off or put away digital technology during certain times of the day. This will give your family more time to talk, play games, read, cook, walk outside, or spend time with pets.

You’ll also be able to see how often your child uses their devices if you have a common place for them to recharge them, like in the kitchen.

Help your family get a good sleep by keeping screens out of the bedroom. This includes televisions, smart phones, iPads, tablets, and any other devices with a screen.

Remember that teens and younger children need to spend time:

  • doing homework
  • doing physical activity, like playing outside and sports
  • doing chores
  • with family, friends, and peers

Remind your child that having access to digital technology is a privilege and there are responsibilities and limits.

For help and support, contact Alberta Health Services Youth Addiction Services at 1-866-332-2322 (toll free in Alberta).

Your child might say:

You might say:

“Music helps me sleep, why can’t I listen to music on my phone?”

“I can get you a radio with ear phones.”

“I need to read books on my iPad.”

“Let’s get books from the library.”

“I need an alarm clock to wake up.”

“Let’s find an alarm clock at the store.”

“All of my friends have their tablets or phones in their bedrooms…I’m the only one who’s not allowed!”

“Every family has different rules. In our home, we have limits on where and when you can use them.”

“You used to let me have my phone in my room when I was sleeping. Why not now?”

“I’m setting limits now because I’m more aware of the risks of too much technology.”

“I’ll miss out on everything my friends are doing if I don’t stay connected!”

“I know it’s hard to disconnect, but finding a balance is important to our family.”

“My friends are upset. I have to keep talking with them!!”

“I understand you want to keep talking with your friends. But too much screen time takes away from important things like sleep, homework, chores, and family time.”

“Just a bit more time! I’m winning the game and can’t stop now or I’ll lose all my points!”

“If you can’t stop playing at the time we agreed on, you’ll lose your screen time tomorrow.”

See the Resources section for more information.​

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