Frequently Asked Questions
A. Let your children use Internet and electronic screen products appropriately
1. Young children can be easily engaged when playing with tablet personal computers or smartphones. Why can't we let them use these products?
1. As young children are still immature in growth and development, engaging a long time in Internet use and electronic screen products will have negative impacts on the physical health including musculoskeletal growth and vision. It will also hinder all-round development of young children by taking up the time they need for social communication, cognitive and physical development.

2. If possible, spend as much quality time with our children as possible, e.g. talking, reading, playing and engaging in physical activities together, etc, to replace screen time in order to promote the cognitive, physical, social and emotional development of children.

3. Be careful in choosing the content of the electronic screen products. The products should be kept by adults. We have to accompany our children and give proper guidance when using these products.
2. My one-and-a-half-year-old boy often whines. Recently I find smartphone helps to calm him down instantly and feeding him has also become an easy task. Should I continue to do this?
1. A one-and-a-half-year-old boy is capable of learning to feed himself instead of relying on watching or playing with a smartphone to keep him eating his meal. In fact, watching and using any electronic screen products distract children from enjoying eating, thereby defeating their motivation and interest in learning to eat. Their participation during mealtime will then become passive.

2. We need to be careful not to fall into the trap of giving unintentional "reward” to an undesirable behaviour, in your case, giving the smartphone whenever your boy whines, resulting in him learning to get the smartphone by whining.

3. To handle problem behaviour like whining, use effective behaviour management strategies such as withdrawing total attention to him until the problem behaviour stops or putting him in quiet time for a short duration.
3. Do I really need to sit with my children when they are using computers?
1. When our children are young, we have to sit with them when they use computers and electronic screen products.

2. Actually seeing what and how the children are doing with the computers facilitates us to provide appropriate and timely advice.

3. We need to establish open and positive communication with our children since young age for appropriate computer use.

4. It is especially important when the computer is connected with Internet because something inappropriate, e.g. gambling elements, violent and sex-related messages, may come up to the computer after just a few "casual clicks”. Besides, sharing and discussing with our children about the fun and enjoyment of computer use also require us to join their activities.

5. After the children have demonstrated appropriate degree of self-control, awareness of healthy use and willingness to seek help from us, our direct support can be modulated and more autonomy can be granted for their computer use.
4. I do not have much time to surf the Internet together with my kid. Is there any quick fix?
1. To cope with the limitation of time, grandparents and other suitable adults may also take turns to surf with children and talk with them about their computer use.

2. Building desirable parent-child relationship during other occasions offers us the advantage of efficient and direct communication with our children for computer use.

3. Owing to the constantly changing nature of modern technology, we should talk and check, at least periodically, with our children about their computer use so that timely advice and guidance can be provided to our children. Still, children need our care, guidance and support from time to time and we should be ready for help when required.
5. How can I talk to my children if they do not like to talk to me about their computer use?

1. Apprehension of banning, scolding and punishment from parents are common reasons for children to avoid open communication with parents.

2. We can cultivate an atmosphere of open communication by staying calm, recognizing their acceptable needs and granting permission for appropriate use.

3. For banning of inappropriate use, showing our genuine concerns for their own benefits and giving reasonable explanation can reduce hard feeling due to rejection.

4. Letting them know we are caring and sensible actually gains credits for effective parenting too.

6. How can I talk to my children if I know nothing about computer?
1. If we are more familiar with modern technology, we will be more confident and capable of supervising our children about their computer use. In fact, most modern computers are designed for easy usage. Given time and willingness, many parents can learn that well too.

2. Some children like to act as experts in their favourite areas, we may let our children teach us and enjoy the advantage of positive communication with our children by showing curiosity to their interested activities.
7. I suppose the school will teach my children proper ways to use computer. Why should I bother?
1. Parents and school staff are collaborators and both are indispensable in the promotion of healthy growth of children. We have to understand what our children have learnt at school to reinforce their consistent practice at home.

2. We can browse the websites of the school or talk to teaching staff to check with news and policies released about the use of electronic screen products. Taking initiative to make inquiries and suggestions for improvement to school enhances communication between us and school too.
8. Are there tips for me to set a good model to my children in using computers or smartphones properly?

1 Set boundary for usage

1.1 Put aside our smartphone while having family time with our children e.g. having family meal or leisure activities, etc.

1.2 Ignore incoming calls or messages that do not require immediate attention

1.3 When we go to sleep, take measures to prohibit possible disturbances of your smartphone, e.g. turn it off or set it to flight mode

1.4 Buy new smartphone when we need instead of following technology trend or commercial gimmicks

2 Strengthen family rules and accommodations

2.1 Comply with family rules for computer use that we require our children to follow

2.2 Follow rules consistently and explain valid reason to our children in case they have special need for exception

2.3 Talk to our children and review rules periodically to meet changing circumstances

3 Set up alternatives

3.1 Maintain personal contacts for social interactions whenever appropriate, (e.g. face-to-face conversation and personal gathering, etc.)

3.2 Develop a wide range of personal interests other than electronic entertainments like cooking, reading, model building, hiking, playing football and fishing, etc.

9. What is "digital footprint”? What should I be aware of?
1. Digital footprint consists the sum of history of everything a person has done via the Internet or related electronic products, e.g. any online behaviours, search results, comments made, images shared, content created, people with whom the person has interacted in the web, etc.

2. We should explain to our children that once digital messages and images are stored or shared online, they may never be completely removed and could be found almost without time and geographical boundaries. Therefore, they need to be prudent to avoid getting into trouble in the future. For instance, taking and sharing intimate pictures with lover via social network may be romantic but become awkward when the intimate relationship has changed years later.

3. We may be part of our children's digital footprint when we share their daily activities or pictures, such as nude images of our lovely baby or upload their activities, we are actually exposing their personal data. We may not aware that it may lead to embarrassment of our children when they are growing up.

4. Educate our children to be responsible digital citizens. Encourage proper manner for communicating online including email, messages and chat groups.

10. How do I teach my children to maintain "cyber-safety"?
Teach and remind our children as follows:

1. Do not release sensitive personal information, such as personal name, telephone number, address, identity card number or name of school, in Internet and social network to prevent others' possible misuse.

2. Set social networking profile to "Private” to ban strangers to browse, download or copy their personal information for improper use.

3. Only chat and interact with people they actually know in real life; do not add strangers as friends in Internet.

4. State clearly to friends that they need to ask for permission before uploading or tagging your children's photos or sensitive information on their social networking profiles, and vice versa.

5. Protect their computers and smartphones by setting up password and change periodically. For important materials or application software containing sensitive messages, multiple passwords are essential and keep them private. Do not save the passwords in computers or smartphones.

6. Avoid using public computer or Wi-Fi to log in personal account. Avoid giving personal information into computer intended for public use. If using a public computer, switch off the automatic recording function of the computer for browsing, and log out properly to prevent their personal account from others' misuse.

7. Install and update antivirus software and firewall to the computer and smartphone to ensure protection against virus and malicious programmes.

8. Never open suspicious or unidentified emails, attached files or download software from unofficial source to avoid possible attacks from spy or malicious programmes.

9. Tell children to get our permission before making purchase through the Internet. Choose reputable agents and platform for transaction. Pay attention to detailed information of the products, money amount and way of payments.

10. Do not regard Internet as an anonymous environment and act recklessly. Beware of the wide coverage and everlasting nature of Internet world, think for the consequences before sending out messages, and understand that all persons need to hold responsibilities for their acts in the Internet world, behave decently, respect others and comply with the laws.

11. Seek help from us if they encounter problems or queries.
B. Limit the time of usage and make agreement
11. What should I do when making agreements with my children for their computer use?
1. Establish rules for computer use at the initial stage: before permission of using computer is granted.

2. Get their participation: Discuss with them the rules in details and they will cooperate simply because their interests, at least partly, are accommodated. Discuss with them while setting up the agreement increases their sense of responsibility too.

3. Specify websites and application software that are prohibited to avoid argument.

4. Specify time frame for usage: Clear cut of time use reduces subsequent argument too.

5. Allow special arrangement: Time of use needs to change under special occasions e.g. more / less use may be granted during holiday / examinations. Be open to facilitate their approval seeking from us to accommodate special circumstances; this reduces chance of violation too.

6. Set relevant and practical consequences for misuse. Cutting time use on the other day or doing extra house chores can deter overtime use. These measures are more rational than scolding.

7. Set token for cooperation and favourite rewards to increase their motivation to comply with agreement. Rewards may be healthy snack, arranging their favourite outdoor activities and extra play time at weekend, etc.

8. Get other family members as witness to enhance effective supervision.

9. Post the contract in conspicuous place. This reminds us to follow the agreement.

10. Set date for evaluation. New agreement should be reviewed within one week as amendments are expected to be the most suitable arrangment for both parties.
12. What should I do if my children only want to play video games and have no other interests?
1. We should recognize and respect our children's needs and preference to enjoy video games according to agreement.

2. Paying attention to their daily lives, usual topics of discussion with friends, favourite music, songs, comics, movies, and sports, etc. all give us clues to further develop their other interests.

3. Arranging and encouraging them to enjoy personal hobbies. Avoid coercion, placing undue emphasis on achievement or performance which reduces enjoyment.

4. Adolescents change their interests from time to time. If those activities are healthy, parents may keep an open mind and encourage their children to explore and enjoy.
C. Limit access to inappropriate content
13. If I find out my children receiving or sending out "sexting” messages, what should I do?
1. "Sexting” involves increased risks of embarrassment, distress and emotional trauma. Taking or sharing an image can have a long-lasting impact because digital photos and videos sent privately can easily be saved and later further forwarded to others.

2. We should remind our children to be cautious and decent about their online behaviour. Never send any sensitive messages, nude or semi-nude images should never be shared online. Existing images that may lead to embarrassment should be deleted as soon as possible.

3. We need to remind our children to avoid putting themselves at risks for bullying and blackmail. Sensitive images posted online can attract the attention of sex offenders to force the child to comply with malicious demands. Thus, they should be firm and say no to any invitation of "sexting”.

4. Bullying, humiliation and blackmail may be too overwhelming for children to handle by themselves. We should show a caring and supportive attitude to our children so that they may feel comfortable and take initiative to approach us when they need.
14. What should I do if my children breach what I ban them to watch?
1. We should stay firm for reasonable bans and we should also listen to our children to find out their reasons to breach agreements. Sharing with them about our own relevant experiences facilitates frank discussion and communication.

2. Surfing with them to appropriate websites to search for proper education can justifty our reasons and reinforce our stand for banning.

3. We have to complain to relevant official department if we encounter websites with violent, sex and obscene content allowing underage youth to access.
15. If my children receive cyber-bullying messages, what should I do?
1. Cyber-bullying can cause emotional distress, lower self-esteem, social anxiety and damage of trust on people. Parents need to be serious and understanding when their children are confronted with these threats. Let the children know we will stand by their side.

2. Some children may avoid telling their parents about a cyber-bullying incident either fearing that parents may make things worse or negating their worries immediately. Therefore, blaming the child for possible misdeeds that attract bullying and / or underestimating their concerns should be avoided. Parents are advised to stay calm, support their children, encourage and accept their expression of feelings. The following are some suggestions to handle cyber-bullying with your children:

2.1 Do not reply to cyberbullies, as this may stimulate further intimidation

2.2 Do not delete cyberbullies' messages which may be used as evidence later

2.3 Do not post personal information, such as email address, telephone number and portrait photographs, to any websites, which provide further chances of bullying

2.4 Report the bullying incident to the Internet service provider or social network manager for their follow up

2.5 Accompany your children to seek help from school guidance staff and/or social worker if bullying is suspected

2.6 Monitor whether the bullying continues, report to police if necessary

D. Modulate ways of supervision according to children's need
16. How can I better manage my children's time use of computers, smartphones or other mobile electronic screen products?
1. It is difficult to monitor children's use of smartphone or mobile electronic screen products. They may have some sensible justifications for using them. Parents may allow children to use these mobile electronic screen products during idle time such as waiting for transport or during short break after study revision.

2. We should remind and enforce regular break to their children. Sometimes, simply staying aside with their children or politely asking what they are doing with the smartphone can interfere their continuing use.

3. Switching off Wi-Fi network or restricting its usage late at night, such as keeping their smartphone will help to limit their time use. Again, enhancing children's understanding and cooperation are more advisable than restrictive measures.

4. We should be prepared to take actions to confront their children's improper computer use. Parents should remain calm and firm while enforcing rules of computer use. Prolonged scolding and criticism which, usually lead to escalation of negative emotions and greater conflict, are not recommended.

17. My children will enter secondary school soon and start to argue with me. How should I adjust my ways to supervise their use in these electronic screen products?
1. We need to adjust our ways of supervision according to children's degree of maturity and demonstrated self-control.

2. For primary school students, computers, smartphones and other electronic screen products should be locked, password-protected and prohibited for use while we are not at home. Placing the computer in some open areas and positioning the screen at conspicuous places can facilitate easy monitoring. Installing safety software tools can filter out some websites that contain content inappropriate for children, monitor their online activities and limit the amount of time they spend online. Generally, enforcing the use of these products according to mutual agreement between parents and children can effectively rectify misuse.

3. For secondary school students, open communication and empowerment are important. Surfing with and talking to them about their favourite activities and interests for computer use can enhance our understanding of how they are using their computers. Parents need to be patient to find out whether there are reasonable explanations for their children's violation of rules. Rules may be revised to allow for change of circumstances.

4. Despite the technologies are advancing rapidly, persistent use of effective parenting principles and skills can help to maintain good parent-child relationship and healthy growth of the children. Once entering puberty, it is normal for adolescents to have their own opinions. We need to understand and take it as an essential step of growth.

Updates of health tips based on revised recommendations from American Academy of Pediatrics :
Health Tips Version 2014 Version 2018  《NEW》
Limit screen time and
choose screen activities wisely
Under 2 years old:
Avoid screen time as far as possible. Parents should spend as much quality time with children as possible to replace screen time in order to promote the cognitive, physical, social and emotional development of children. In any case, children should not be left alone with the electronic screen products.
Under 2 years old:
Your child needs a large amount of parent-child interaction before two years old. Avoid letting him in contact with any electronic screen products unless to do interactive video-chat with family members under parents’ guidance. If you think the use of certain screen activity may benefit his learning and development, always accompany and guide him and set limits for him.
2 to 6 years old:
If electronic screen products have to be used, screen time should be limited to no more than two hours a day and under the guidance and supervision by parents and teachers.
2 to 5 years old:
The daily accumulated time for your child to watch TV or use computer, tablet computer or smartphone should be restricted to within one hour. The screen activities should be interactive and educative, and to be carried out under your guidance.


Download
Related Information
“A Healthy Internet Starts with You” Video Series (Parents) NEW
 
Back Top
 
Last Revision Date : 4 February 2019