Media has the power to model personalities, to shape the way we see and understand the world and the immediate reality. As grown-ups we can easily choose what we want to hear, read or see; we can also choose what to believe. And it’s a lot to choose from: newspapers and magazines, music and radio, television and movies, Internet and much more. While we can control our actions, yet we cannot control the media, what we hear and see may not be good for our children especially for those under the age of six.
Media is everywhere, it is a normal part of life. Many families cannot conceive an existence without a TV, radio or newspapers. More and more people depend on the Internet to read the news, gather information and download music and movies, to have fun and to work. This is the world we choose to live in. Let’s ensure we make the right choices for our children.
Children can see in the media sexual and violence related images; can hear “bad” words and mimic improper poses. Statistic children watching TV tend to act aggressively. Recently even obesity is added to the list of the consequences and there’s no wonder since watching TV means less physical exercise. Besides, media, while emphasizing the importance of eating and living healthy, still advertises for junk food, alcohol and tobacco. Although there are many laws stipulating what type of programs and commercials are proper for kids, they are often ignored. Parents and child-care providers should make all efforts to protect kids from undesirable media.
As already stated, you cannot control the media. Yet you can control what infants and children under the age of six see and hear, at least when you are around. Here are a few “must take” actions:
Watch TV and movies with your kids and make sure these programs are suitable for their age; – Know the content of a TV program before allowing your children to watch it; – Listen to the music they listen to and make sure the lyrics are appropriate; – Do not allow your kids to surf the web alone! – Limit the TV watching time, not more than two hours of quality programs per day. Children under the age of 2 should not watch TV, unless it’s for educational purposes. Don’t let your kids just hang in front of a TV just because you do not have enough time to take care of them! – Do not let newspapers and magazines lay all over the place, especially if they have violent or sex related images and headlines.
School-aged kids are more exposed to the media than children under the age of six. In addition, friends might influence them. There’s not too much you can do, except talking and using modern technology on your TV and computer to prevent the children from seeing certain websites and programs. Yet none of these programs are infallible.
The best you can do is to honestly explain to your children what sex really is and how to prevent undesired consequences (pregnancy, disease), why alcohol and cigarettes are not healthy, how junk food interacts, sooner or later, with their metabolism.
And maybe you should approach the “everyone does it” topic from a unique point of view: “that’s exactly why you should not do it”. Make your kids understand uniqueness is special.
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