Why is Developing a Media Plan So Important?
As we head into any season of life with a myriad of things vying for our attention, it is likely that a media use plan is not part of the agenda. The truth remains, however, that during the hustle and bustle of life, media use often skyrockets within our families. This may or may not appear to be a problem for many in our nation who see the various forms media use as a welcomed distraction for their loved ones.
The average teen spends up to 9 hours a day consuming some
facet of media. (commonsencemedia.org) It is in our best interest to think through what that means for their development, time management, safety, and well-being. What is the next generation missing out on as they spend countless hours interacting with devices that mainly revolve around self-focused activities?
What are our children being exposed to?
According to an important series that aired on ABC: Good Morning America, called “Cracking The Kid Code,” children were able to get around many of the parental control settings that were placed on devices for their protection. For this experiment, students who were 9 to 13 years old were given devices that had parent controls placed on them. They were then asked to attempt to bypass the controls to get to a specific game. It didn’t take long until one student learned how to get around the parent controls and then proceeded to tell others exactly how it was done. By the way, it took less than 30 minutes... So what’s the moral of the story? If a child really wants to view something, they can and will find a way. Subsequent to this is the reality that kids are also being exposed to explicit content that they may not be looking for initially but stumble upon through pop-ups and web searches.
What can we do?
As you and your family plan for your busy schedules, set aside time to start a conversation. The bottom line is that most research points to good old-fashioned communication and open dialog that really makes the difference.
Here’s some advice from the American Academy of Pediatrics:
Develop, consistently follow, and routinely revisit a Family Media Use plan (see the plan from the American Academy of Pediatrics at http://thenovusproject.org/resource-hub/parents) Note: You will need to scroll to the bottom of the page.
Address what type and how much aspects of media are used and what media behaviors are appropriate for each member of the family according to age.
Place consistent limits on hours per-day of media use as well as specific types of media used.
Advocate that children and adolescents get the recommended amount of daily physical activity (1 hour) and adequate sleep (8–12 hours, depending on age).
Recommend that children not sleep with devices in their bedrooms, including TVs, computers, and smartphones.
Avoid exposure to devices or screens for 1 hour before bedtime.
Discourage entertainment media while doing homework.
Designate media-free times together (eg, family dinner) and media-free locations such as bedrooms and the dinner table in homes.
Promote activities that are likely to facilitate development and health. This includes positive parenting activities, reading, exploring, talking, and playing together.
Communicate guidelines to other caregivers, such as babysitters or grandparents so that media rules are followed consistently.
Engage in selecting and co-viewing media with your child and share these positive experiences with your family and your community.
Have ongoing communication with children about online citizenship and safety, including treating others with respect online and offline, avoiding cyberbullying and sexting, being wary of online solicitation, and avoiding communications that can compromise personal privacy and safety.
Another important actively is to develop a network of trusted adults such as aunts, uncles, family members, etc., who can engage with children safely through social media and to whom children can turn when they encounter challenges.
If you would like more information regarding resources and the realities of media use upon the next-generation, visit our website: www.livelifeunplugged.org where you will find our free resource: The Novus Project.
For more information about parent and family coaching contact us through www.livelifeunplugged.org