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Media Management Tips

The Kaiser Family Foundation recently reported a dramatic rise in children’s and teens’ daily media use. The study cites that most youth report they have no parental rules about how much time they can spend with TV, video games or computers.

Parents’ Choice has long advocated the importance of managing our children’s media diets. Setting rules and limits about the content, its accessibility, and the time spent consuming media is as significant as making sure our kids eat healthy balanced meals. Leisure media time should be used as a snack, not a main course.

Following are ten simple Media Management Tips from Parents’ Choice:

1. The Right Time, The Right Place
Establish and follow ground rules about when and where small screen media – TV, DVDs, Software, Internet and Video Games - can be used. Schoolwork first, small screen media second. Make children’s bedrooms off limits to small screen media.

2. Make Play Dates With Children, Not Channels
TV should not serve as a child’s constant companion. Limit the daily dose of small screen time. For children under two, many experts and pediatricians say no screen time is acceptable. Unless a child is using the computer to research homework assignments, small screen media use should be limited to one - two hours per day.
3. Broadcast The Right Signals
Kids love to imitate. If your children see you spending hours as a couch potato or tethered to a laptop or PDA, the message will be “what’s good for the goose, is good for the gander.” Limiting your leisure media time will send the right signals to your children: that rules and limits apply to the whole family.
4. Media Is Not A Condiment
Do not use television to season a meal. Turn it off while eating.
5. What’s OK for 8 isn’t OK for 4
Children’s media selections should be age appropriate. Use guidelines, ratings and independent reviews as a starting point. Use your judgment and your family’s values to determine what is right for your children. Consult Parents’ Choice Foundation’s website for children’s media recommendations.
6. Ratings Exist For A Reason
Just as food labeling made us more nutrition-conscious consumers, ratings help identify age appropriate “nutritional” media content. Learning what the TV, Movie and Video Game ratings mean, will make you a better dietician for your children’s media.
7.Watch What Your Children Watch
Show your children that you enjoy the shows they like to watch. Use media time to talk about what you’re watching and ask questions. Watch, laugh and learn together.
8.  Make Media Matter
Whether watching a show about friendship or fish, take your children to the library to find a book that further explores the program’s themes or subjects.
9. Join in the Fun
If your children ask to play a video game, play age appropriate video games with them. If they are old enough to use the computer, visit Internet sites together. Show them where they’re allowed to go, not just where they’re not.
10. Use the Tools
Parental controls help. Use filters to block Internet sites, the V-Chip to block inappropriate television shows, and use the impressive technology of TiVo KidZone to find and select good television choices for children. 


© Copyright 2010 Parents’ Choice Foundation. All rights reserved.


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