children and media / family media literacy / healthy famiy / Healthy Media Choices / New Parents

New Parents

It’s always a pleasure to give a workshop or presentation for new parents – especially when they bring their new babies along!  The window of opportunity is wide open for forming healthy habits as a family as it is when there’s a new baby is in the home.  It takes a lot of intentional planning to address the needs of a young child without everyone else sacrificing unnecessarily. Healthy Media Choices gives workshops that bring the research and information together in a process to help each household come to a solution uniquely suited to their needs.  Over the next blogs here, we will go in depth about each of these areas.  For now, let’s go over some of the concerns of young parents.

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PARENTS’ NEEDS:
RELAXATION
We need “downtime” and, in particular, new mothers need to relax while nursing.  Sometimes, we put on the television. How serious is this?  We know the answer intuitively and the research about braing development supports that sense: less is better. On the other hand, we don’t need guilt – we need to be intentional.  An occasional period of screen time, especially if it is limited from the beginning ” We will watch…..and then turn it off”  is something that is comfortable for many parents.

Some things we need to keep in mind

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that there be no screen time for children under two. http://www.aap.org/sections/media/toddlerstv.html

Your family is forming habits from the first day and they build with repetition. If you are intentional at the beginning, things can be easier later on.  There are alternatives: treat yourself to a book or magazine that is just for fun, listen to music.
Trading “time off” with another parent can help provided needed breaks.
As the child gets older, there are resources for keeping a child occupied while you put your feet up at sites like TRUCE www.truceteachers.org

COMMUNICATION:
Increasingly, email and social media fill a gap, particularly in the winter, for young parents, especially if they are spending long times at home with a young child. Seeing the parent absorbed for hours by a computer or other screen can have an impact on a young child’s own view of the importance of media.
Making a decision to break “screen time”  at regular intervals (particularly important for those who work on a computer from home) and having one on one time, without mediation, with the child can go a long way toward mitigating those effects.
CIVIC ENGAGEMENT and ADULT ENTERTAINMENT
As adults,  we may feel the need for news and entertainment that is not suitable for our children.  It is necessary to be intentional, to speak to each other in order to collaborate and to use the various recording devices available to watch when our children are not around.
PARENTS’ FEARS:
Some of the concerns expressed are:
•    Isolation – will the child feel lonely?
•    Will the child lack necessary media skills?
•    Body Image
•    Screen addiction
•    PBS – is it any healthier?
•    Anxiety and fear
A COMMON THREAD:
Parents wish for balance and a joyful family life

Resources:  These are the organizations that are the major conduits of information and resources for addressing these concerns.
Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood

www.commercialfreechildhood.org
National Institute on Media and the Family
www.mediawise.org
Packaging Girlhood
www.packaginggirlhood.com
Packaging Boyhood
www.packagingboyhood.com
Alliance for Childhood
www.allianceforchildhood.org

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