In modern times, our children are often exposed to negativity through a variety of media sources. From the things they watch on television to information available on the World Wide Web, the once large world has become a lot smaller. With the average child spending a total of 16 hours or more in front of a screen (television, mobile device, or computer), the need for parents to step up and monitor their usage is imperative.
The idea of monitoring your child’s screen time was once a non-issue. Family oriented networks were geared towards sending positive messages with valuable lessons. However, as the interests of the general population evolve, media outlets oblige by providing violent, sexually heightened, drama filled content.
From the graphic scenes in the news of the latest ISIS attack on Paris to the overly sexualized music videos, the media arguably paints a picture that sex, violence, and negativity are the new norm, and it can greatly impact the well-being of your children.
So how can a concerned parent help to shield their children from the cruel realities of life? Though it may seem impossible with all the media sources and means to access them, there are things you can do to ensure your children are not constantly absorbing negativity.
Let’s first start with the television. The average child can spend as much as four hours per day in front of the television screen. During this period of time a child could easily be exposed to so much you don’t want them to see. As parents, you can do a lot to minimize the amount of negativity your child sees by doing the following:
· Parental Controls. A parent’s first line of defense would be to utilize parental control features. Television providers such as DirecTV in Long Beach and other qualifying cities offer easy to use parental control options. Based on the rating system for television shows, parents can determine which ratings are safe for their children to watch and which ones aren’t. For example, a parent with a 10 year old might want to block their child from watching things that are TV14 and TVMA.
· Educate Yourself. Another way to stay on top of the information that your child sees on television is to educate yourself. By knowing which shows they watch and the type of content the shows display, you can determine whether the program is a negative of positive influence.
· Set Limits. Limiting the amount of television your children watch each day can ultimately minimize the amount of negativity they’re exposed to. As most parents are aware, more violent and sexually explicit television content typically comes on later in the day, so setting a cutoff time for the kids of about 8 or 9 pm would suffice.
· Talk to your kids. Communication between parents and their children is extremely important. With a mega influencer such as the media constantly sending the wrong message to your children, it is important that you are there to provide explanations about the realities of life. Having conversations about hot topics or popular shows your children watch can prevent them from misinterpreting information or accepting negativity as the norm.
The internet is another media source with a plethora of negative information floating around. Your child could simply type in a term and thousands of search results could lead them to access information that they shouldn’t. While the internet is commonly used for school projects, online gaming and other things that children commonly access, it is important to monitor their usage.
· Educate Your Children. Education is always important when it comes to internet usage. There are so many negative messages and threats out there that you need to ensure that your child understands the importance of being safe and mindful of the things they access. Talk to your children about appropriate internet use such as knowing which websites they can access, what things should or should not be discussed online and so on.
· Keep Computer in Public Area. If your child has a computer in their room you may want to rethink that. They can easily be accessing negative content without your knowledge. Keeping the computer out in an open place minimizes the likelihood that they’ll search for inappropriate things. Use of mobile devices like cell phones and tablets should also be limited to public areas as children can easily access the web from those sources.
· Web Filters. Much like parental controls, web filters are programs that will filter the types of web pages your children are allowed to access. The software is designed to screen the site’s source and compare it to the settings/guidelines you’ve set forth upon installation. If the site is safe, they allow access, however, if the site goes against the rules, access will be restricted.
Naturally, you want to do your best to protect your children from all the negativity in the world today. Though you may not be able to cover every media source at all times, having safeguards in place like parental controls and web filters, and initiating frequent communication can minimize the potential of your child accessing information that is simply inappropriate. Proactive parenting in monitoring and addressing media issues can ultimately help your children develop positive values and habits when it comes to using technology.