Thursday, September 17, 2009

Media Safety

It is mind boggling the amount of media exposure our children are exposed to. There are video games, internet, TV, movies, social networking, cell phones and commercialism! It is estimated that the average 10 year old spends 44 hours a week using media. That is astounding to me! After you factor in school, sleep, personal care and media, there isn’t much left for family and friends.

As parents, we work to keep our children healthy by providing nutritious meals, getting immunizations, teaching them everyday health practices (like hand washing, covering mouths when coughing, etc), keeping poisons out of their reach, watching for allergies and lots of other things. We do all we can to keep them safe from dangers in the environment. We would never let a young child go to the park alone. We would never let our children watch someone next door get beat up.

Yet our children are exposed to these and more every day in their media interactions. They are ‘sitting ducks’ for media vultures who’s primary focus is NOT their best interest. The best count that research sees is 14 acts of violence per hour in programs directed at children. Fourteen acts! How does that repeated exposure effect children? It tends to desensitize them to violence. It also teaches them that violence is an acceptable way to problem solve. It sure isn’t what I want MY children to learn.

What’s a parent to do? Two simple tricks will go along way to protecting our children from content that is not appropriate. The first is to locate media (TV, computers, video games) in a common area of the house. When you are in the proximity you can supervise what your children are watching. The second tip is to carefully monitor the programs your children watch, even movies/programs targeting young children had inappropriate content. Talk to your children about what they’ve seen. Is it real or imaginary? Was that the best way to handle a situation or not?

Let’s take back our Parental influence. The media giants are not looking to our children’s best interest but we are!

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