children and media / Early Childhood / Family / family media literacy / Healthy Media Choices / Parents / Strategies

Four Steps to Intentional Media Use with Young Children


There are four foundational steps toward an intentional relationship with media in the home when you have young children.

1: Get the information you need: Here are a couple of places to start

American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP): Recommendations for   Parents

The AAP discourages media use by children younger than 2 years.

The AAP realizes that media exposure is a reality for many families in today’s society. If parents choose to engage their young children with electronic media, they should have concrete strategies to manage it.

Ideally, parents should review the content of what their child is watching and watch the program with their child.

Parents are discouraged from placing a television set in their child’s bedroom.

Parents need to realize that their own media use can have a negative effect on their children. Television that is intended for adults and is on with a young child in the room is distracting for both the parent and the child.

Unstructured playtime is more valuable for the developing brain than any electronic media exposure.

If a parent is not able to actively play with a child, that child should have solo playtime with an adult nearby. Even for infants as young as 4 months of age, solo play allows a child to think creatively, problem-solve, and accomplish tasks with minimal parent interaction.

The parent can also learn something in the process of giving the child an opportunity to entertain himself or herself while remaining nearby.

Center on Media and Child Health  and their Ask the Mediatrician  have plentiful, accessible information

2. Look at your own situation Who is in the household? What are their needs?

Each household is unique and  all the members need to be considered.

How do you spend your time? Where are the “in between” times where you could touch base? If     you find it hard to “pin this down, “  try keeping a journal    or a week of when you or another adult from the household is with the  child/ren and how the time is spent.

3. Share core priorities and find allies. Now that you’ve looked at the people and activities that make up the home life, focus in on what is most important to you. Have a family meeting and articulate those priorities  and the wish, if necessary, to re-orient how time is spent so as to reach your goals.

4. Take incremental steps toward your goal. Make a decision about one thing or one time frame where a shift will make a difference toward your goal. For instance, going to school in the morning mightl be a time to connect, even wordlessly, without interference, with the child. Some people try “mini-sabbaths:” times when all media is turned off intentionally, even for an hour, so that the family can connect.

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