How can you be a media-wise parent?

How can you be a media-wise parent?

Connecting with your child to help them access media in a smart and safe way.

We live in a media-saturated world where children are exposed to different kinds of media. Kids are accessing it independently at an increasingly younger age.  In fact, a 2014 survey by the Media Authority of Singapore (MDA) found that majority of children surveyed began using social media between the ages of seven and ten. Some even began  even before they reached primary school age.

Do you want to be parents who take media discernment seriously? Help your children to sort through the plethora of media messages. You need to make values-based media decisions in this regard.

Avoid Extremes

Many parents take an all-or-nothing approach, rather than teaching and reinforcing values and principles on a case-by-case basis. It can hurt your child in the long run, however, to swing from one extreme end to the other, no matter how convenient it is.

The first extreme is permissiveness, wherein parents seldom set limits and boundaries for their child. This philosophy of ‘anything goes’ can leave a child exposed to undesirable media influences. On the other hand, a complete media ban is also not feasible in an era where schools use media as a learning tool. Your child’s friends are also likely to have their own mobile devices.

Try, then, to find  a middle-ground that is in line with your family values. Set age appropriate boundaries for your family's media consumption. Knowing when and how to say ‘no’ is half the battle won!

How else can you be media-wise parents? Read on to the next page!

Get Involved

Media-savvy parents are encouraged to get involved in the media consumption habits of their child. For example, instead of merely saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the latest online game, play the game with your child. Enjoy the bonding experience even as you figure out the pros and cons of allowing access to it.

This approach will pave the way to better communication with your child. In the event that you find a specific media unsavoury and want to impose a ban, you can lay out a clear reason why it is inappropriate. They will be more inclined to listen to you, as you will be able to share your own experience using it.

Some experts encourage parents to create a set of principles that will guide a family's media consumption. This isn’t to suggest that you subsist entirely on Sesame Street videos with your young ones. Instead, these guidelines, aligned with your values, will help ensure that everyone keeps to a healthy media diet.  It also sends a strong message to your child that the media they allow into their lives can have long-lasting impacts. This tell that they should choose wisely.

Check-in With Your Child

Ensure that your child is equipped with the right netiquette once he is mature and old enough to use social media. Children need to learn how to safely navigate the online world.

Check in on them regularly to know the content they are accessing and if they are facing any uncomfortable situations online. Keeping an open line of communication is one of the best safeguards against cyberbullying.

Teaching media discernment encourages balance. It also leads to critical thinking, bonds families and gives children life skills they will carry throughout adulthood.

Take the time and effort to become a media-wise parent that helps your child access media in a safe and smart manner!

Be informed on the constantly evolving media landscape and the latest media trends. Check out our e-guide on the new phenomenon Pokemon GO and understand what it means for your kids.

Copyright © 2016. Focus on the Family Singapore Ltd.

 

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