Get the Internet out of childrens’ rooms

PARENTS should ban internet connections from children’s bedrooms, experts say, after research shows students are neglecting their studies to spend time on social networking sites.

A Telstra survey reveals about a quarter of children spend seven hours a week or more on sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Half of the parents surveyed believe their children’s education is suffering.

Cyber-safety expert Dr Martyn Wild said parents should place computers in family areas such as lounge rooms to keep schoolchildren focused on their studies.

“You wouldn’t let your kids stay out socialising with their friends until all hours on a school night, but that is exactly what they are doing online, often right under their parents’ noses,” Dr Wild said.

“The answer is not turning off internet access. Rather it’s about implementing simple behavioural changes in your children and setting realistic expectations about their use of the internet.”

The research, by Newspoll, showed social networking sites were particularly popular with teenagers aged 14-17, with 84 per cent logging on.

“With older students, parents and carers will need to develop the trust for these students to exercise their own judgments about balancing online play and work sensibly and responsibly,” Dr Wild said.

“I don’t suggest you become an internet Big Brother – just be aware of when and what your kids are doing online and be prepared to set realistic guidelines.”

Parents have also been urged to monitor their children’s use of the internet via their mobile phones and on hand-held gaming devices.

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