Study finds best way to control kids’ time online


Worried about your child’s screen-on time?

New research involving more than 7,000 families in Chile finds that there’s no substitute for parental knowledge as a restraint on children’s internet use.

The study, involving researchers at Columbia University, Northwestern University and Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, compared the results for households where parents got text messages (also known as SMS) about their children’s time online versus those who used parental control software.

The software made no difference in internet usage, but the text messages from the internet service provider (ISP) had a significant effect.

“We observe statistically significant reductions in use precisely on the days immediately after receiving the ISP information. Furthermore, it is those SMS messages indicating that children used more internet than the reference group in a specific week, which produce the largest declines in internet use,” the researchers wrote in October.

“Taken together, these findings indicate that providing parents with specific information about their children’s internet use affect behavior while providing parents with parental control software does not.”

The research further found that unscheduled text alerts were more effective than those that arrived on a predictable schedule.


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