Setting Media Use Rules for Children

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It’s very popular for parents to express concern about the time their children spend using media. At the same time, not many are making a serious effort to curb the their child’s media play because they don’t want to be “mean parents” or don’t know how to limit access due to so many available devices.

An excellent reason for making rules is that the less time your children spend using media, the better their grades are likely to be. A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that 8- to 18-year-olds spent more than a quarter of each day using entertainment media. According to this study, the most time is spent on viewing television, closely followed by listening to music for older teens. Plus, there is now media multitasking, such as using the computer and listening to music, and watching TV and texting, which adds to the total time that children are involved with media content. It makes you wonder when children have time for other activities.

The Kaiser study also points out that media use has really increased in the past five years. This can be explained by the easy access children now have to mobile devices such as cell phones, tablet computers and MP3 players. Just walk down the street and look at the people on their cell phones talking or texting. It is not just teens on cell phones; many young children are also using them. Twenty percent of all third-graders now have them. By the time children are in middle school, 83 percent will have cell phones. Unfortunately, a considerable percentage of older children are using them during class time.

As a parent, you can definitely have an impact on how much time your children spend on media entertainment. About one in three parents have established rules. Setting rules can reduce heavy media use as much as three hours a day. Here are some popular rules:

1. No media of any type at mealtimes or during family activities.

2. No TVs in children’s bedrooms.

3. Parents keep their children’s iPods, iPads and cell phones during homework time.

4. There should be a limited amount of computer and video-game time.