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A Guide to Setting Digital Boundaries for Your Children

Aug 11, 2023

Boycotting technology altogether is unlikely to be a suitable tactic when it comes to helping set boundaries with your children and digital devices. Instead, helping your kids to navigate all that the digital age has to offer is going to be a more realistic and failsafe approach for you and your family.

Digital parenting is about supporting your children to reap the benefits of having technology in their lives. But it’s also vital that we guide our young ones through the potential downsides of life online and help them to adopt healthy digital boundaries.


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What are examples of digital boundaries?

Healthy digital boundaries for your child can be like any other type of boundary you set for them. They can complement or be incorporated into the other rules and routines that you may have as a family.

Examples of what digital boundaries can include are:

  • Content restrictions
  • What platforms they’re allowed to access and what accounts they can have
  • Whether they’re allowed unsupervised access to their devices
  • When and where they can use devices
  • Limits on the length of recreational time they can spend on devices.


Tips on setting digital boundaries

One of the first boundaries you’ll likely consider when it comes to allowing your kids access to digital devices is the types of content they can view. This is a crucial aspect of ensuring their safety and well-being while online.


The content they’re allowed to access

Implementing age-appropriate content restrictions and using parental controls are great tools when it comes to creating a safer online environment for your kids. However, these aren’t foolproof. Open communication is also vital. Discussing the reasons behind these restrictions can help children understand the importance of them. It can also help encourage them to seek guidance on what to do if they stumble across anything they find inappropriate or troubling.

Read my guide on how to keep kids safe online for more tips.


Social media and gaming accounts

Social media and gaming can be fantastic resources for helping kids socialize and explore their creativity. However, as adults we’re well aware of the negativity and potential downsides that engaging with these platforms can have. It’s certainly no different for our children.

Deciding on which platforms they can use, what privacy settings and/ or age restrictions they can and can’t have, who they’re able to interact with, and whether they’re allowed to use them while unsupervised are all crucial boundaries to consider.

You may find my guides to what parents need to know about Minecraft, parenting in the age of social media, and YouTube parental controls useful.


Screen time limits

How long your kids can spend online or using their devices is another important boundary to set.

Remember, depending on the age of your child, digital devices are likely going to be an important tool in their education. They may be totaling up screen time both in school and when they’re doing their homework. Letting them use devices recreationally can help them build and strengthen social connections, as well as explore their creativity.

Of course, getting it right with screen time is all about balance. By establishing clear and consistent screen time boundaries, you can help your kids develop healthy habits with their devices that they can take with them into adulthood.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) sets out its guidance on screen time limits for children based on their ages. Find out more about these age recommendations in my guide to how much screen time is ok for kids.


Device-free time and zones

Having specific times and even areas of the house that your children can and can’t use their devices is another way to establish digital boundaries.

For example, you may want to ensure that your kids are only using devices in a communal, family area. This can make it easier for you to supervise what they’re doing and/ or who they’re connecting with. On top of this, you could set a boundary about preventing them from taking their devices to their rooms—this can help to limit both unsupervised use and when they’re racking up the screen time.

Other digital boundaries could include no devices during mealtimes and having a cut off for technology use before bedtimes.


Create a family media agreement

A great way to implement digital boundaries with your children is to create a family media agreement together. This is a family plan for the boundaries you’ll establish for the digital devices you have in your life—including computers, smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles, e-readers etc.

An agreement is a great way to open up the discussion about device use. It’s also a really helpful tool for setting clear and consistent digital boundaries that all members of the family can be held accountable for.

Read my guide to what a family media agreement is and how to create one for more details.

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