The computer is a valuable learning tool for teens, and it can improve their knowledge of what's taught in the classroom. The device becomes something of a menace, however, when your teen is using it to socialize with friends and play online games. In those instances, it's often difficult to persuade your child to turn the computer off. It can be done, though, with a few tricks and techniques.
Keep your computer in a family area such as the living room or kitchen. When your teen has a computer in his room, it's far more difficult to monitor how much time he spends on it. It also prevents your teen from spending hours of unsupervised time surfing the Internet and chatting with friends.
Talk with your teen about why you're going to impose computer limits. Tell him you want him to spend time reading, pursuing hobbies, spending time with friends and getting some exercise. When your child has a variety of activities he's involved in, he has less time to sit in front of a computer screen, according to the book, "Getting to Calm: Cool-Headed Strategies for Parenting Tweens and Teens." Children who are given concrete reasons for certain rules are also more likely to accept them without complaint.
Decide on a limit for how much time your teen can spend on the computer at one time. Set the timer for whatever amount of time you choose. Tell your teen how much time she has and when the timer beeps, she has to finish her email, game or other activity and turn the computer off immediately. She's less likely to be upset when her time is up if it's not a surprise, such as when you just announce that she needs to get off the computer without any warning.
Give your teen a consequence if he throws a fit or gets angry when you ask him to turn the computer off. Perhaps you could deduct future computer time. When the consequence stings, he's more likely to get off the computer without a fit of anger.
Surprise your teen with a reward every once in awhile. If she's been adhering to her limits without getting rude and upset, surprise her with an extra 15 minutes or so of computer time so she knows that you appreciate her efforts. When you keep it a surprise, your teen is more likely to behave because she'll want a repeat reward in the future.
Monitor what websites your teen is visiting and who he's chatting with online. If you do allow your teen to have a computer in his room, set it up so he can't access the Internet, recommends Vicky R. Bowden and Cindy Smith Greenberg, authors of "Children and Their Families: The Continuum of Care."