The most effective way to help your child develop good media habits and navigate the challenges of screen time is to be a media mentor. The first step is having a healthy relationship with media yourself.
After reading this article, I was inspired to focus on becoming a media mentor to help my kids develop good habits. Part of this has been making them aware of how they use media and devices—whether it’s to connect with friends, do something creative, build their math or vocabulary skills or enjoy some downtime playing Super Subway Surfers or Minecraft.
I’m also trying to help them be aware of how much time they’re spending on devices and ask them to set a timer, so they learn to power off when their time is up instead of the onus being on me. While there’s always room for improvement, my kids know that their screen time privileges are ultimately based on trust, and parental control apps can be helpful.
I try to encourage my daughters to watch shows with quality content and ask themselves are they learning or does it make them laugh? A Friend recently reminded me that as children of the 70s, most of the shows we watched had some underlying moral lesson. Think Little House on the Prairie, The Brady Bunch etc. While I try to have an open mind, sometimes parental intervention is necessary, and I have now banned YouTube Kids.
Watching shows in our family sweet spot is fun for all of us, and I have recently started using The SmartFeed to build a media library for my kids. High-quality content makes a difference in how kids interact with media, and you can play a big role in the sourcing of content. The SmartFeed enables you to source content from 60,000 titles (movies, TV, apps and books) by applying filters targeted to your child’s age and interests, as well as specific themes or family values. You can tee up a list for your children and ask them to save what interests them.
When it comes to teaching my kids new skills, my girls really appreciate the direction and they seem to get a confidence boost. Of course their chests puff up when they show me a thing or two :).
Children of media mentors are less likely to access porn, chat online with a stranger, impersonate an adult or peer online. Your time invested in being a media mentor is well worth it!