Limiting kid's computer use
February 28, 2011 12:08 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to limit my daughter's time on the computer, not only by hours (as Windows offers in its parental control system), but also by session (so she could use it for, say, only an hour at a time, with a break between sessions). Ideas? Suggestions?
posted by dw to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Put the computer somewhere central, like the family room, where you can keep an eye on her computer time. Use a kitchen timer and have her set it for an hour when she sits down. If she can't do that consistently and honestly, she doesn't need any computer time at all.
posted by COD at 12:12 PM on February 28, 2011

Is it possible to set a home computer to "lock you out" after a pre-determined time has elapsed? A lot of libraries (and other places with public computers) do this. You get a pop-up screen that warns you when you only have 10 minutes left. Then, you get a 60-second warning, so you can save your work. And then, it ends your session.
posted by AlliKat75 at 12:19 PM on February 28, 2011

Assuming this is Windows, Time Limit Control can do this for you. It's $49 for retail license, though.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:25 PM on February 28, 2011

I'm sure there's some kind of third-party control to allow this, but having the computer centrally located and using a timer works well for us. I usually just set the timer on my phone, which is always near me if not on my person.

I've noticed when I'm not "on top of it" my eight-year-old will cheerfully sign in as her little sister to continue her Webkinz World Domination once her own allotted time has run out via the system's parental control limitations. At our house, it seems to work best for everyone if screen time is something that is actually overseen directly, rather than fixed technologically--it can be kind of a pain for me if I'm busy but I haven't found a way to improve on plain and simple supervision.
posted by padraigin at 12:25 PM on February 28, 2011

(er, Time Limit Manager, sorry)
posted by Burhanistan at 12:26 PM on February 28, 2011 works pretty well for myself
posted by rebent at 12:34 PM on February 28, 2011

I know this might be arduous, and it's a perfect-world scenario, but if you have the time and inclination to have an engaging alternate activity available immediately post-computer time, it will significantly reduce any whining and attempts to get around the rules. It doesn't have to be the most fun thing in the entire universe, but something she doesn't hate and something that requires enough focus to distract her. Does she use the computer for social time? A mental challenge? New information? Great if it you can introduce a non-computer activity that fills the same need.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:08 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Check out Watchdog. It lets you set up time limits and restrictions on time of day. You can also set up a timeout period once a session has completed. It also allows you to set up a white list of sites that can be accessed. I used this program on my kid's pc when they were younger.

It really cut down on the whining and fights. The computer warned them that time was running out and then logged them out when time was up.
posted by tman99 at 1:37 PM on February 28, 2011

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