Media: Do’s and Don’ts
Media is prevalent throughout our culture, from Facebook to Snapchat, to interactive video games, news outlets, and even Pinterest. It is safe to say that even as adults media is somewhere in our daily interactions with our world and culture. With handheld devices, media doesn’t just stay at home in the living room anymore. Media now follows us, and our children, throughout our days. Media can have positive effects, allowing us to communicate with friends and family, updating us on current events, and now even helping schools interact with parents. But it can also distract us from important tasks, such as, work, homework, relationships, and family time. It is important to find a healthy balance. Here are some helpful Do’s and Don’ts to help set your child and your family up for success.
Set time limits.
Too much time interacting with media can take away time interacting with important tasks, such as homework, chores, work, and interacting and building relationships. Set and stick to a consistent time limit. This time limit may look different from the weekday to the weekend, but whatever you choose-stick to it. Allowing your child to have a set time limit, allows structure, boundaries, and balance.
Too much time on media can also lead to some depressive symptoms, often getting stuck in the comparison trap- comparing what you are doing to what others are posting online. It can also be difficult to read about what seems like a constant stream of negative current events.
Use Media as a Reward.
As debatable as this topic may be with your child and our culture, remember that media is NOT a basic survival need. Media is a privilege, NOT a right. Have your child earn their set amount of time on media by finishing homework first, modeling appropriate behaviors, completing their chores, ect. Remember to make sure your child knows why and how they are earning their media time-Be specific.
Make sure your child is being safe on the internet. It may be “annoying” in the moment, but safety always comes first. Children are constantly creating their world view based on what they see, read, and hear throughout their days, it is important to make sure what they are viewing and reading on the internet is age appropriate. While your child may not have negative intentions while utilizing media, it is important to be aware that there are negative people on the internet. Be aware of not only strangers on the internet, but to the fact that in today’s day and age, bullying can follow your child home through cyber bullying.
Set Realistic and Clear Expectations and Consequences up front.
Discuss your expectations and their expectations of appropriate versus inappropriate media usage and set clear boundaries for how you would like them to use media and consequences if they do not follow the rules set in place. If your child is utilizing media inappropriately, set a consequence relevant to the behavior. For example, IF you choose to go over your time limit, THEN you will not be able to use media tomorrow. Be specific.
Follow through with Consequences.
If your child learns that they can get away with not following the rules without any consequences, they will continue to push and ignore the boundaries you have set in place. If you set a consequence, remember to put that consequence into action.
Model Appropriate Media Usage.
Children are always watching their parents. Pay attention to your media habits and model the behavior you would like your children to follow.
Spend time with your Child.
With the extra time you have in your day-away from media distractions- you now have more time together to interact and build a stronger relationship with your child.
Take away media if it is earned.
If your child earned media usage for a specific behavior, do not take away their reward of media usage for a separate behavior. Reward the specific behavior with media, and use a different consequence for the separate behavior.
Add an expectation after they have earned media time.
If you set the expectation that your child will earn 1 hour of media for completing their homework, and they followed through with your expectation, reward that behavior. Do not take or postpone their reward because you decided you wanted them to do something else before earning their media. This will take away the strength of the reward, and will lead them to lose trust in your word.
Cut their allotted time short.
Do not tell your child they have 1 hour, and then tell them to get off after 45 minutes. This will also break their trust in your word and build walls between you and your child. Your child will no longer believe you and will be more likely to push boundaries and break rules. It’s hard to follow expectations and boundaries, if those expectations keep changing.
Forget how easy it is to lose track of time on media.
Help set your child up for success by supporting them in keeping track of their time using media. Discuss ways you can help them to keep track of the time. It can be with timers or reminders, get creative! But make sure to have this discussion with them, letting them know that you are there to help and support them.
Allow excessive use.
Remember that your child’s brain is still developing. Help them to balance various types of entertainment and promote creativity. It’s okay for your child to be bored. It can help to cope with boredom in school, and promote use of imagination and creativity.
Don’t forget You and Your child are both doing your Best.
Written by Michele Flynn, MA