Screen time boundaries – new resource for parents and carers

Posted on 22 March 2018

Today, as part of our work within the UK Safer Internet Centre, we have released new advice for parents and carers with children aged 0 to 7 looking at screen time and the boundaries you can put in place.

This advice explores the issue of screen time and gives some top tips for you to use with your family.

Time spent online

Recent research published by the South West Grid for Learning (SWGfL), a partner in the UK Safer Internet Centre, highlights the amount of time that young people are spending online each day. Surveying over 6000 young people from year 4 to year 13, across the UK, the report found that over 40% spend between 1 and 3 hours online each day.

What is considered screen time now is very different to what is was 10 years ago, it now incorporates the use of TVs, DVDs, on-demand services, gaming devices and consoles, mobile phones, tablets and laptops. With so many ways to spend time online or at a screen it is important that the way we look at screen time also evolves.

What the experts say

In October 2016 the American Academy of Paediatrics’ (AAP) guidelines were revised in order to better reflect modern family life, the different types of technology that children come into contact with on a daily basis, and the huge variety of positive ways in which media can be used at home.

These new guidelines and other expert opinions also fed into how we created this resource, helping us develop our top tips for UK families.

Parent’s voice

To help shape this advice we also spoke to over 175 parents and carers, asking them to offer advice to other families based on what they currently implement at home in terms of screen time moderation. Their responses helped to shape our top tips and advice, and we highlighted some of the parent’s top tips in the ‘what parents say’ section of this resource.

Our top tips

One of the main parts of this resource consists of simple and easy to use top tips for parents:


  1. Use digital devices together: Get involved in your child’s online activities. Have fun, play games and learn together online, just as you would in the physical world. It will then be natural for your child to turn to you if they experience anything upsetting online
  2. Set clear expectations: Clear family rules can help your child have a positive start to their digital life and get the most out of being online. Ask your child to help create some family rules.
  3. Be informed: Many digital devices, services and content providers offer a range of parental controls. You can choose the type of content and options that are suitable for your child.
  4. Establish good habits early on: Both adults and children enjoy sharing moments with family and friends through online images and videos. Starting conversations and good habits early on is a great way to support children in staying safe online.


Other resources to help you manage screen time

Access the full resource – You can download a copy of the full resource here

Family agreement - Making a family agreement is a great way to decide as a family how much time you will spend on devices. Together you can come up with rules that all members of the family agree to, this can include things such as no devices at meal times or no screen time before bed. The Childnet family agreement template can help you to get started on your own family agreement.

Hot topicsFrom Cyberbullying to gaming, the Childnet Hot Topics cover a range of issues and topics, giving key advice for parents and carers.

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