Parental discretion advised: Managing media

Provide your kids a healthier lifestyle by taking charge of the media in their lives.

Many parents and caregivers feel overwhelmed by the constant changing world of technology and media. Trying to create a balance between keeping up with times and managing what children are exposed to can be a huge challenge but an important one. Children in the United States. are exposed to very high levels of media violence. Research data shows that there are about five to six violent acts per hour on prime time television. Bring in video games and other media outlets, the problem becomes bigger. 

According to the ParentFurther-Search Institute, children spend more time sitting in front of electronic screens than doing any other activity besides sleeping. This excessive screen time comes with all kinds of hazards. Time spent viewing television, movies or playing video games is time spent not exercising. Countless food commercials aimed at children promote unhealthy foods and don’t give children the full picture about a well-balanced diet. More screen time decreases conversation/communication between family members. Media glamorize alcohol use, smoking, and drug use. And then there are the ads, for almost every product imaginable, including alcohol and medications intended for adult use only. Advertisements can send strong messages about personal appearance and other topics to which children and teens are especially attuned. 

So what is a parent or caregiver to do? Here are ten tips that you can start with to manage technology and media: 

  • Set clear limits. Make sure there are rules in place that limit your children’s daily media viewing.
  • Don’t use media as a babysitter.
  • Don’t make media the focal point. Keep TVs out of children’s rooms and where the family eats. Place computers in locations where they can be monitored. Have rules in place on usage of cellphones and set limits on usage of video games.
  • Offer other enjoyable activities, such as physical activities, reading, music, hobbies or social activities.
  • Choose what to watch. Decide what to watch and turn off the media source afterward to discuss it with your child. To manage commercial viewing, DVR the shows that you choose to watch and view later. You then can bypass all commercials.
  • Ban unacceptable programs.
  • Identify high-quality programs. Provide examples of what you consider high quality programming. Again, watch and discuss some these programs with your children.
  • Know what your kids are watching.
  • Discuss media violence. Pay attention to the ratings. Please don’t ignore them; they are there for a reason.

By practicing these ten tips you can decrease the amount of violence your children are exposed to. For more information on managing media in your children’s life goes to this website

Michigan State University Extension offers a multitude of classes and resources on stress and anger management, parenting, conflict resolution and violence prevention. For programs near you go to the events page

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