As Netflix (and other such offerings) enter our homes, and as children have greater access to a live stream of movies, series and music videos, we feel that we need to press pause and take a moment to consider the possible perils that we now face in parenting our children through this space. While these products are thoroughly enjoyable and have real value, we want to encourage you to engage in more meaningful and interactive discussions with your children around what they are watching.
I recently attended a conference and was provoked by this piece of advice with regards to screen time – the content of what your children are watching is more of a concern than the length of time in which they are plonked in front of a television set. Scenes containing violence, suicide, sex, language, nudity, drugs and bullying are a mere flick away – what our children are exposed to and how our children process, think and respond to the material seen, is still under our control if we follow these four simple steps:
· Where possible block children’s access to age restricted shows – follow these links for exact steps:
· Netflix: https://help.netflix.com/en/node/264
· Screen it first: Pre-watch the TV programmes or movies and ask yourself the following:
· Do I feel comfortable with my child watching this?
· Are there any values that, we as a family, do not resonate with on this show?
· Will I be able to unpack this topic openly and honestly with my child?
· Make conversation a priority in your home because:
· Interacting more with your children, will help your children to improve their conversational skills.
· An environment of open dialogue will improve your relationship with your kids.
· It will keep the lines of communication open – something you are going to need as you enter the tween and teen years ahead!
· Watch together: Watch popular television programmes and movies with your children and be ready to answer whatever questions they have for you – more importantly use these shows as springboards to hold relevant conversations with your children.
· Discuss the consequences of violence (if you allow older children to watch violent programs) and other ways the conflict could have been resolved.
· Talk about stereotyping and prejudice in TV programs.
· Discuss commercials with children. You can help your child recognize sales pitches given by commercials, and evaluate whether the messages in ads are realistic.
· Discuss the differences between reality and make-believe. Children interpret what they see differently to adults. They may not be able to distinguish fact from fiction.
· Explain differences between news and entertainment, and reality and make-believe
· Share your own beliefs and values.
We cannot wish away technology, however, we can raise our children through an age of technology. We can equip our kids with the necessary skills to face the challenges that this age will offer but will do so best if we have a solid and deeply rooted relationship with our child. Chase after this relationship as a priority.
Educational Psychologist & Learning Centre Co-ordinator - HeronBridge College