The most common question I get from parents is a form of “What should I do about media in my home?” A group of researchers and experts have spent the last year reviewing the research in order to offer a definitive answer to that question, and just yesterday released a series of papers outlining what we know about kids and media, what we don’t know, and what parents should be doing now to engage in meaningful, appropriate media parenting.
The organization Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development gathered a group of experts, divided us into workgroups, and asked us to review the research in our areas of expertise related to kids and media. I participated in the Family, Parenting and Media workgroup, and yesterday the journal Pediatrics released our report at a summit at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. In short, our report offered the following recommendations:
- Parents should talk with their kids about media content and use
- Parents should set age-appropriate rules about media content and use
- Parents should choose high-quality media content for their kids
- Parents should use media to connect with and to create together with their kids
- Parents should discuss online etiquette and safety with their kids
- Parents should be mindful of and monitor their own media use
In other words, what our children need are parents who are empowered by their own media literacy to engage in daily media parenting. Our children need parents who understand the positive and negative effects of media. Parents who are cognizant of their own media habits and how those habits affect their kids and their family. Parents willing to talk, talk, and talk some more with kids about media content.
The crux of the kids and media issue is this: Some media is good, and some media is bad. And kids need our help making good media choices, both in terms of content and time spent with media. My hope is that we’ll recommit ourselves to do all within our power to be such a parent.