If my kid needs to use the computer for school, how do I make sure he's not wasting time on other stuff?

First, make sure he's really "wasting" time. Kids can be pretty adept at multitasking, and what looks like wasting time might be a complex formula of managing music, homework, and socializing that doesn't negatively impact academics.

Discuss your concerns and talk about ways to structure homework time that work for everyone. Consider asking your kids to write down assignments and have them check each off as they finish them.

If your kid is really having a tough time blocking out distractions and staying focused, you might need some technical assistance. If your kid's school uses a 1:1 device program, ask the teacher if it comes with some time-management software or other controls that allow you to restrict access to non-homework-related sites. If your kid is using your home computer to do work, you might consider a parental-control program such as Skydog, OpenDNS, or KidsWatch that lets you separate homework from playtime.

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Kid, 12 years old

Do not use software that allows you to remotely access/control your child's computer. That is an invasion of privacy. A lot of people do not realize that constantly checking in on your child's computer is equivalent to walking into their room every five minutes and scrutinizing everything. It is very impolite, and can make your child paranoid (I feel that way whenever I am within webcam range of a school computer). At least tell them about it BEFORE they get a computer, that way you and your child can work thing out and avoid a bunch of arguing, complaining, and general unhappiness.
Teen, 14 years old written by LostInPLace

Honestly, Just keep tabs on him. Installing spyware and restrictions is invasive and downright wrong and untrustworthy. Just pop in every so often, look over what tabs/ programs he has open, and set work time and play time on it. And get him to tell you what work he's doing, and show you what he's done. Then he can't avoid doing it, and it's done to a good standard. Hope this helps.
written by Jimmy brew

Just watch him and make sure he does not goof off if he does,punish him