When we live in a society of information overload, how can we be sure that we’re carefully and consistently choosing the best age-appropriate media — games, videos, apps, and television shows —for our kids?

Picking age-appropriate media for your kids

Here are our tips for working with your kids to make great media choices.

A 2011 research study conducted by Common Sense Media found that "a substantial proportion of the time that young children spend with screen media is spent with digital media — including computers, handheld and console video game players and other interactive mobile devices such as cell phones, video iPods and iPad-style tablet devices. Among 0- to 8-year-olds as a whole, a quarter (27 percent) of all screen time is spent with these digital devices."

Given those numbers, it's crucial that, as parents, we are always aware of the types of media our children are exposed to. Here is a three-part approach to ensuring your children are viewing quality content:

1

Question

Here are some general questions parents should ask about the games, videos, apps and television shows their children are exposed to:

  • What is the overall message of the media?
  • Does it reinforce the values of your family?
  • Is there advertising, and if so, what sorts of products and services are being marketed to your children?
  • Does the media perpetuate any stereotypes?
  • Does it leave your children feeling happy and positive?
  • What is the overall rating?

View our guide to electronic educational tools >>

2

Act

Become a media-literate parent. Help your children learn to interpret and analyze what they see.

Be available and observant as much as possible while your kids are using media so you can answer questions or even ask them yourself.

Utilize websites that help filter through and review the games, videos, apps and television shows available to your kids. Common Sense Media, whose overall goal is to provide kids and families with trustworthy information and an unbiased viewpoint as they choose the best media and technology, is a great resource for parents.

Though sites like Common Sense Media will never replace parental responsibility, they are a great starting point for gathering information.

Read our tips for keeping electronics educational >>

3

Talk

Download a copy of Common Sense Media's family media agreement, a thorough checklist for parents to use to begin a discussion with their kids about their overall media use. It's a great tool for opening a dialogue and establishing family media usage guidelines and expectations.

By asking the right questions, educating ourselves and being available when our kids are using media and opening a dialogue with them about our expectations, we can be certain the time they spend viewing games, videos, apps and television shows is positive.

More on kids and media

Best apps for the iPhone: Educational apps for kids
Best apps for the iPhone: Fun apps to keep kids entertained
Netflix: Just for kids

Tags: digital media for kids

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