This week is National Media Literacy Week! In honor of National Media Literacy Week, I like to share an excerpt from Media Maze about a simple way to start improving our media parenting efforts in our homes. As you know by now, research shows that the single biggest predictor of children’s media use is parents’ media use. So, of course, to change kids’ media use we need to first change our own. So, without further ado, from p. 91-92 in Media Maze:
“I’m convinced that big changes start with small changes. So, let’s make the decision today to change our own media habits. I’m not talking about an entire overhaul of a way of life. What I’m talking about is to start by changing one thing here and one thing there. Here are a few things that we could do better in our homes—maybe they’ll spark an idea or two about what small, unconventional changes you could make to your media habits:
- Play a game with a child before bed instead of watching the news.
- Turn the TV off during dinner. Start with just one day a week and see how it goes.
- Take one day a week and refrain from checking Facebook for the entire day. (If that sounds hard, maybe that’s the perfect place to start!)
- Refrain from checking notifications on your phone between five p.m. and your kids’ bedtime.
- Read to your child for five minutes before bed.
- Don’t take your phone to your bedroom with you when you go to bed for the night.
- Watch educational TV (such as shows on PBS) a little more and cable TV a little less. (PBS is a nonprofit corporation, meaning its mission to educate makes its content different than most content found on TV today.)
- Make a concerted effort to look at your child, not your phone, when you’re having a conversation with them.
- Keep the TV off for one evening each week.
- Choose the innocent movie at the theater for date night once in a while.
Two quotes sum up the message I’m trying to communicate here. The first is attributed to Confucius: ‘To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must cultivate our personal life; and to cultivate our personal life, we must first set our hearts straight.’ And the next quote is sometimes, and sometimes not, attributed to Mahatma Gandhi. Most likely it is a bumper sticker version of some sentiments Gandhi expressed. Regardless, it goes something like this: ‘You must be the change you wish to see in the world.’
If we want to change our children, and how they are influenced by the media, we must first change ourselves and our own media habits. “
There you go. Happy Media Literacy Week! What one change will you make this week to improve your own media parenting?