Parent power box

A recent study asked Aussie parents what their main health concerns were for their kids. The number one health fear, ahead of drug use, obesity, even cancer was too much screen time.

In the Devenish household, Jaimee's just finished year twelve and Jack year ten.

Their late night gaming and social media sessions were becoming a concern for their parents.

So, Mum Kym installed a device allowing her to control when and what the kids access online.

The "Parent Power Box" sits next to the TV. On a computer, the parents set up a profile for every person and device in the house and set restrictions.

If the kids try to access a blocked site, they get a message saying they can't.

Parent Power was created by Perth father and tech expert, James Webster."You can set up profiles for the kids for instance that block adverts, maybe block adult content, maybe allow social networking at certain times of certain days, but not other times and once you've set up those profiles the box applies those rules for you."

So, how much is too much?

Australian Health Department guidelines say that under twos should have no screen time at all.

Two to five year olds should have a maximum of one hour a day.

Five to 18 year olds should have no more than two hours a day of non-educational screen time.

St Stephen's school psychologist Liezl Addinall says the health fears about too much time online are well founded. "Some of the research has found some physical health concerns, they found social health concerns, psychological health concerns which is kind of health and wellbeing and that's more kind of motivation and that there could be some links to attention problems in children."

Last week, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver posted a video on Facebook, promoting an app called "Our Pact." "You can set up a routine as a parent for when wifi goes on and off and it also blocks off apps so they can still use their kind of tech for doing homework and stuff like that but not apps and not wifi." Whatever method you use, the experts say taking control of your children's internet usage is important for their wellbeing. "Well for this generation they are growing up with technology and it's a part of their lives and it is all about finding that balance. If they're spending 5-6 hours in front of a computer screen playing games, that's just detrimental to their health."

www.parentpower.com.au/app2/page.php?wl=8&p=Home