Do you notice your children mindlessly scrolling through their social media feeds, or binge-watching Netflix series for several hours? Or are they also spending hours playing mobile games and chatting with their friends? One of the biggest challenges that parents face, is getting the full picture of what their children are watching, reading, and who they are chatting with or listening to. Therefore, as parents, it is now more difficult than ever to ensure that the digital media that our children consume daily is both safe and enriching. It might be a difficult task. But have you ever wondered how you can help with the situation? Read on to find out how to manage your kid’s media consumption.
Consuming low-quality content with little educational purposes as well as age-inappropriate content could be detrimental to children’s mental health . It is essential to look out for your children’s mental health, especially during times like these.
Having a family media plan lays out how you can manage your kid’s media consumption and make media work for both you and your children. Here’s how you can create one.
Key components of a family media plan
A family media plan consists of 5 key aspects:
- Device-free areas
- Device-free times
- Media choices
- Device-free activities
- Digital citizenship and online safety
1. Device-free areas
Setting screen-free boundaries at home ensure that devices do not interfere with your children’s playtime. It also helps to promote family bonding time.
Some common areas you should consider:
At the Dining table: Keep mealtimes device-free. This encourages conversation and bonding.
Similarly In the Bedroom: Leave devices outside of the sleeping area. This can reduce disturbances from notifications and calls. Research has also shown that blue light from mobile devices can interfere with sleep!
2. Device-free times
Apart from device-free areas, time blocks and device curfews are also effective in reducing mindless media consumption.
Therefore, some time periods you can consider:
- In the car (for short trips below an hour)
- An hour before bed
- Homework time or
- Family bonding time.
3. Media choices
Many apps and websites claim to be “educational”. But they are actually not. Therefore, it is good to do your own background checks online. This is so as to make sure that the apps your children are using are age-appropriate, interactive, and serve the correct educational content.
Some strategies to select the right media you can consider:
- Co-viewing or co-playing with a parent or adult. This helps to promote interaction and discussion of media material. And it allows for more effective learning while allowing parents to stay updated with children’s digital activity
- Making it a household rule to get your child to seek your permission before downloading new apps or visiting new websites. This is so that you can review the apps and media your child is exposed to.
4. Device-free activities
Real-life social interactions and play are vital parts of childhood development and learning . Therefore, it is essential to make it a point for children to play regularly with friends and family. This is so as to allow for holistic growth.
Some device-free activities you can consider:
- Reading books
- Outdoor play
- Nature walks
- Playing with blocks, legos and puzzles or
- Arts and crafts.
5. Digital citizenship and online safety
Our children are growing up as digital natives. Especially during the pandemic, our children are required to be on By teaching them to be responsible digital citizens and how to protect themselves from online dangers, we are playing our part in creating a safer online environment for our children to explore.
Some actions you should ensure your child takes :
- Alerting a parent or a trusted adult if exposed to inappropriate or uncomfortable content
- Being polite and courteous in online exchanges and
- Respecting others’ privacy
- Not sharing private information or pictures online or
- Not befriending or chatting with strangers online without permission
To Make Things Easier
The easy part of making a plan to manage your kid’s media consumption is making it. But the hard part is executing it and actually sticking to it. How do we then make sure our children comply with the aforementioned recommendations?
plano app’s parental control and eye health features empower children to create healthy device use habits that last a lifetime.
plano app is a parental management mobile app that can help. It has parental control features like app block, browser block, device time scheduling and remote lock. These are designed for you to monitor your children’s device activity and ensure maximum online safety.
Children can also earn points with the app and redeem them for a plethora of device-free activities at a discount. Besides that, plano also serves to encourage healthy device and eye habits in your child. How does it do that? Try it for yourself to experience its features for free!
Media Use in School-Aged Children and Adolescents. (2016). Pediatrics, 138(5). doi:10.1542/peds.2016-2592
Park, A. (2019, Jan 28). Too Much Screen Time Can Have Lasting Consequences for Young Children’s Brains. Retrieved from https://time.com/5514539/screen-time-children-brain/
The Importance of PLAY. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.babybonus.msf.gov.sg/parentingresources/web/Babies/BabiesPlay_and_Learning/BabiesActivities/Babies_Importance_Of_Play?_afrLoop=37268086008932535
Family Media Use Plan. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/media/Pages/default.aspx