Between the computer, the TV, the DS, and the Wii, a lot of screens are vying for your kids' attention. Parents try lots of different things to limit screen time -- everything from outright bans to "only on weekends" to setting a timer. Being The Enforcer of Screen Time Limits may solve your "right now" goal of getting kids to turn off. But raising kids with an understanding of healthy screen limits and the ability to self-regulate takes a little more work.
Like everything in parenting, media management is a process -- one that requires balancing your long-range goals with the daily reality of the various devices in your kids' lives. Here's an age-by-age media-management plan with some practical tips to try along the way.
Preschool age. Creating consistent, healthy media habits starting when kids are just beginning to be exposed to screens is essential. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises no more than 1 to 2 hours per day of total screen time. Use that as a maximum amount and
Blog Posts by Common Sense Media
- Common Sense Media | Parenting – Thu, Sep 24, 2009 1:24 AM EDT
Between the computer, the TV, the DS, and the Wii, a lot of screens are vying for your kids' attention. Parents try lots of different things to limit screen time -- everything from outright bans to "only on weekends" to setting a timer. Being The Enforcer of Screen Time Limits may solve your "right now" goal of getting kids to turn off. But raising kids with an understanding of healthy screen limits and the ability to self-regulate takes a little more work.Read More »from Don't Touch That Dial: Tips for Limiting Screen Time
- Common Sense Media | Parenting – Fri, Sep 18, 2009 1:10 AM EDT
Sexy nighttime soaps are a staple of guilty-pleasure TV. But the current fall lineup -- which includes Gossip Girl, 90210, Melrose Place, The Vampire Diaries, and The Beautiful Life -- seems a little edgier than ever before. With their portrayals of over-the-top behavior, these shows provide guilty pleasure entertainment for older-but-wiser parents. But they're intended to attract a large teen audience, whose relationship to some of the issues the shows deal with hits a lot closer to home. Topics like losing your virginity, eating disorders, and trying pot are tame compared to what this season is packing: Sexting, a hit and run, murder, the model industry's dirty (and racy) little secrets, hooking up in college, and an undercurrent of vampire lust ... all set to a soundtrack of the latest songs and outfitted in top-of-the-line clothes.
So how do you manage it?Read More »from Sexting, Drugs, and Risky Behavior -- Teen TV Is Back
Watch first. If you can preview the show first, that will give you an idea of what to expect -- and what you can talk
Sucker-punched at the theater
Most parents are careful about checking MPAA ratings before taking their children to the movies. But thanks to an unannounced change, they might be noticing some unpleasant surprises at the Cineplex. Since April 2009, movie previews are no longer approved for all audiences. The Motion Picture Association of America's Classification and Ratings Board substantially changed its policy earlier this year so that promotional clips from upcoming films no longer need to be suitable for "general" audiences. The change went into effect without any announcement or opportunity to comment.
An unannounced switch
Before the policy switch in April, any trailer displaying a "green band" (the green screen that shows before the preview starts) in theory couldn't include anything inappropriate for general audiences. A green-band trailer could, at the most, imply that the movie it was promoting had violence, strong language, nudity, drug use, or other mature content.
NowRead More »from Movie Trailer Bait and Switch
Are your kids (and you) obsessed?Your teens have read the books (and admit it -- so have you). Now they're waiting for New Moon, the movie sequel to the box office blockbuster Twilight. And why not? With gorgeous Robert Pattinson as Edward and spunky Kristen Stewart as Bella, who could resist this guilty pleasure? Are some kids obsessed with the Twilight series? You bet. Should you worry? Not really. Teens are passionate about what they love. It's not unusual or age-inappropriate.
Make the most of itTeens will talk to each other about relationships, but they probably won't chew your ear off about their crushes or ask your advice about that boy or girl that they're involved with. But the great thing about books and movies like Twilight or New Moon is that they offer a way to talk about relationships without risking the cold shoulder from your kids. The dynamic among all the young vampires, werewolves, and plain old humans is so Read More »from Are Your Kids Obsessed with Twilight & New Moon?
It was with a surprising sadness that I read that PBS' third-longest-running series, Reading Rainbow, would be airing its final episode on Friday, Aug. 28, 2009 -- after 26 years on television. I couldn't stop singing the theme song -- "Take a look, it's in a book, Reading Raaainbow" -- for days, and I felt like it was the end of an era.
To me, the show's end signals a fundamental shift in the way we view educational television -- and possibly childhood literacy as a whole. The emphasis, as PBS' Vice President for Children's Programming Linda Simensky told NPR last week, is no longer on teaching a love of books or an introduction to great children's literature, but on teaching young kids how to read. Full stop.
Why can't there be room for both in children's television? Of course shows like Super WHY! and WordGirl should be commended for providing preschoolers with the tools to unlock words. As studies have shown, kids who aren't necessarily read to at home benefit most fromRead More »from Reading Rainbow Signs Off
By now you've probably seen the dramatic PSA that graphically illustrates the dangers of texting while driving. Created by the local police station in Gwent, Wales, it's now an Internet sensation that's been viewed more than a million times on YouTube. The video plays like a movie car crash, showing a teen texting on her cell phone while driving with two other girls. Her car veers out of its lane and collides head-on with another car, which violently forces both cars off the road. The girls look at each other with bloodied faces -- thinking they survived -- only to be hit by a third car, resulting in apparent deaths.Read More »from Rules of the Road for Texting
Lots of screaming, screeching, and blood follow, all designed as a gut-wrenching deterrent to texting while driving. (It's hard to watch, and if your kids are already driving age or nearing it, you should view it first to determine whether you want to share it with them.)
Dramatic action aside, texting -- the #2 use of cell phones after checking the time -- has become a
- Common Sense Media | Parenting – Thu, Aug 27, 2009 10:02 PM EDT
If, somehow, you hadn't already heard of the game Rock Band, The Beatles: Rock Band, releasing in September 2009, will change all that.Read More »from Is The Beatles: Rock Band a Game Changer for Families?
Pony up the $250 required for the full version with all of the instruments (or, if you already own the instruments, "just" $60 for the game), and your kids (and you) will be able to play guitar and drums and sing in three-part harmony to songs that never go out of fashion.
Will this be ideal family entertainment? You bet. But there's more going on here than meets the eye: The addition of The Beatles on the gaming bandwagon underscores the phenomenon that's changing the way that our kids experience music. Gone are the days of sitting and listening to a CD (do kids even know what CDs are anymore?). The merging of the gaming and music industries has elevated music to an interactive and participatory experience.
The introduction of the Nintendo Wii brought things to the next level by putting the player in the game. With its balance board, sporting games,
- Common Sense Media | Parenting – Fri, Aug 14, 2009 11:54 PM EDT
Miley Cyrus did a pole dance during her performanceRead More »from Are Kids Becoming Immune to Celebrity Escapades? Are Parents?
at the 2009 Teen Choice Awards. And Vanessa Hudgens
is now a two-time nude photos offender --
but she's in good company. Lindsey Lohan , Britney Spears , Paris Hilton , and other young female celebs have had scandalous photos (nude or otherwise) appear online -- and their young fans can still find these images in the archives that are accessible through even the most basic Internet search. But while parents cringe, kids seem increasingly unfazed. Are they becoming immune to celebrity scandal ? And how do these incidents impact the images they post of themselves -- or their friends -- online?
We all get surprised when the media teaches our kids something we don't want them to know yet. Marital infidelity is a mature topic that can cause confusion -- and real grief -- in little kids who count on mom and dad to always be there for them.
Jon & Kate Plus 8 started as a wholesome show chronicling the realities of raising twins and sextuplets. We saw them going on vacation. We saw Kate getting her hair done. We saw a million diaper changes. All of which was fine fare for kids 7 and older.
But, the new season started off with Jon and Kate accusing each other of infidelity. For little kids who don't understand the concept of cheating, this is not the way you want to introduce the subject, and certainly not the age to do so. And now Jon has appeared on multiple tabloid covers -- with multiple girlfriends.
As kids begin separating more from their parents around the early teen years, they gain the maturity to understand that each parent -- and child -- operatesRead More »from Jon & Kate: Still Kid Friendly in Crisis?
Stranded by a thunderstorm, I sat in Dulles airport and watched how the little kids (under 5) coped with waiting. Of the seven in my immediate vicinity, two napped, one threw a prolonged temper tantrum, and three played with their parents' (or at least I hope they were their parents') iPhones. (The seventh just sat staring into space.)
There are no reliable statistics on how many toddlers and preschoolers play with phone apps. But I'm willing to bet that my unscientific survey (close to 50%) probably reflects a common reality. After all, 100% of the app-playing children were quiet and had relaxed-looking parents.
Since all media has an impact -- both positive and not so positive -- it helps to consider the pros and cons before letting your youngest children loose with your $200 dollar piece of electronics (OK, $99 if you let them have your old one...). Here are a few recommendations:
1. There are better teething devices than electronics. If your kids start to put your phoneRead More »from Should Preschoolers Toy With Phone Apps?