Monitoring Your Child’s Media Intake
Watching television or movies together as a family can be a fun time and it can even be educational. Many television programs are geared toward teaching young children educational principles like the basics of numbers, or the alphabet. Older children can benefit from the information presented on science and history channels, as well. Media of all types, however, often contains content that is excessively violent, sexually explicit, or otherwise inappropriate for adolescents. Keeping a close eye on the quality and quantity of what your child is consuming media-wise is as important as monitoring their intake of sugar or other junk food.
Television Rating System
Parents should become familiar with the television rating system and choose age-appropriate channels or programs based on the TV rating icon. This symbol appears in the upper left corner at the beginning of the program and also at every commercial break. Similarly, movies have a rating system to assist parents in choosing the best entertainment for their children.
Setting Limits on Media Consumption
Whether it is children’s shows that two year-olds watch, or video game playing for older children, your child will benefit from limits set on the amount of time that they sit in front of a screen. The “off” switch in a child’s brain doesn’t get fully developed until they are well into their twenties. Given this information, it is easy to see why family structure and rules are needed to guide them. Many experts agree that children under two should not watch any television and that children older than two only watch a maximum of two hours per day.
Utilizing Parental Controls
Even though advanced technology is the cause of much of the problem surrounding kids being engaged in non-stop media, it’s not all bad. For example, parents can benefit from taking advantage of the latest technology developed for monitoring or blocking what your child is allowed to watch. All newer television sets that are larger than 13” are manufactured with V-Chip technology. This built-in equipment allows parents to set rating levels so that certain types of programs cannot be viewed without a password. This protection ensures that kids don’t inadvertently see something they shouldn’t when switching channels.
There are other electronic devices that can be purchased that will detect offensive language or scenes that are unfit for children. Some devices read the closed caption transcripts, detecting and muting inappropriate words within the dialogue. Other devices allow parents to set controls so that a movie or television program automatically fast forwards through violent scenes or scenes with nudity in them. Innovative companies are coming up with new and improved ways to offer better parental control and parents who invest a little time in learning how to use this equipment will find it well worth the effort.
Parents in the 21st century are faced with a unique situation that is not likely to change anytime soon: rearing children in a digital age that tempts kids with hundreds of cable channels, movies on-demand, and nearly any kind of entertainment available on a number of different types of hand-held devices. The challenge for parents today is to strike the appropriate balance that children can benefit from when it comes to media consumption.