Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media Tips of the Week, 2016-2017
The good news is that there's lots of content out there that models showing concern for others and identifying with others' feelings. Depending on your kid's favorite media type, there are books, TV shows, movies, and apps and gamesthat offer positive messages about perspective-taking and compassion. Once you've found a winner, talking to your kids about the messages helps transfer those messages to real life.
Media messages play a big role in shaping gender norms, ideas about sex, and body satisfaction, from the time kids are in preschool to their adolescence. From action heroines to real-life ones, these books and movies are great examples of positive media role models for girls -- and for boys, too. After all, where would Harry Potter be without Hermione? No matter their gender, kids will love watching and reading about these female brainiacs and 9 Women of Color Who Made History.
It might be easier if someone just gave parents a recommended daily time limit so we'd know when to stop. In the meantime, we'll need to find balance. Here are 5 Ways to Find a Healthy Balance of Media and Technology:
- Be a role model
- Start good habits early
- Use media together
- Keep distractions to a minimum
- Turn off work
While most adults would agree that face-to-face contact is important, there's no doubt that online communication continues to change how we find, form, and maintain relationships. But the truth is, kids have always had their own codes, slang, and shorthand that adults weren't meant to know. Today, digital tools can cut just about every communication corner with the send of an emoji, bot, or gif.
Many parents wonder how they would fare as a teenager in a world filled with social media drama, texting troubles, and cyberbullying. Whether they're the cause or symptomatic of deeper issues, the same tools kids use to connect can also trigger anxiety, depression, and even thoughts of suicide. For today's struggling kids, there's some hope. Click to learn about popular apps, sites, and services that offer guidance and help when, where, and how kids need it.
February 13, 2017
January 30, 2017
So, when you have a family dinner, commit to putting devices away for those 30 minutes (or, if you have small children, the six minutes of dinner!). Turn your devices on silent. Better yet, put them somewhere where you can't see them and where a notification won't tempt you to check it. Enjoy a device-free dinner as part of a healthy digital lifestyle, and make the most of family time.
Kids are bombarded with images of men and women -- famous or not -- who look perfect. Too perfect, in fact. And that's thanks to photo editing, which, as many of us parents know, can eliminate a model's pimples, make a celeb's cellulite disappear, and lengthen legs, slim waists, and erase wrinkles.
But kids aren't always so savvy. Kids who see unrealistic bodies or faces or clothing -- especially on folks they admire -- can feel inadequate as a result. Even photos of friends on Instagram or Snapchat are too perfect, thanks to flattering filters and selfie-editing tools (learn how girls are seeking, and subverting, approval online).
That's why it's important to teach kids about the reality behind the images that surround them. Empowering kids to see behind the photo spreads and the advertisements can help combat the negative effects of these images. Here are six ways to help your kids resist the Photoshop effect, and 14 books to help kids feel good about themselves and their bodies.
Let's be clear: No one needs a robot. Or a rubber ducky that puts your baby to sleep. But it might be nice to have a gadget do your parenting work for you once in a while -- especially after a long day. Now, with hundreds of new tech tools hitting the market, you can. But should you?
With WiFi, apps, GPS, speech recognition, movement tracking, and more, these new gizmos are programmed to interact with your kids, entertain them, and keep them healthy. For most parents, the idea of a device taking the parenting reins ranges from "over-my-dead body" to "I'll take two." Certainly research shows that warm interactions with a loving caregiver are best for children's development. But just for fun, we consider who (or what) is better able to handle these parenting chores:
- Getting Kids to Sleep?
- Entertaining Kids?
- Keeping Track of Kids' Locations?
- Keeping Kids Healthy?
- Being Your Kid's Friend?
Find out who wins when it comes to parenting chores - Man or Machine?
Working out and eating right are at the top of most people's New Year's resolutions. But as tough as those are, nothing compares with the challenge of a healthy media diet. There are screen-time limits to manage, new apps to investigate, bizarre social media trends to make sense of, and, don't forget, plenty more Pokémon to catch. It's like a 24-hour all-you-can-eat buffet when all you really want is a carrot stick. But in a world where both parents and kids are racking up serious screen time, making a commitment to a healthy media environment is critical for family time, learning, relationships, and digital citizenship.
So whether you're turning over a new leaf or trying to stay the course, our 2017 media resolutions can help you be more mindful, focus on what's most important, get the most out of media and technology, and raise good digital citizens. And if last year was a rough one, past struggles with grades, organization, and friends are easy to carry over into the new year. Check out our Homework Help Apps, Time Management Apps, and Note-Taking Apps for Tweens and Teens for even more ideas on starting with a clean-slate.
During the long break it's easy for kids -- and parents! -- to overload on screentime. But with a little planning you can balance your family's tech activities with much-needed face time. Whether you take the #DeviceFreeDinner challenge or make up your own family agreement, the trick is to downsize -- not demolish -- your family's reliance on technology over the holidays.
To help, here are 8 ways to unplug your holidays:
- Be jolly -- but firm. Let your kids know that you'll be enforcing stricter time limits to create more quality family time. And tell them that the rules will apply to the grown-ups as well!
- Make a list. Schedule some daily tech time for yourself and your kids. Get their input on which devices they absolutely can't live without, and allow some limited use.
- Have a download derby. Browse the app store together. Look for games and activities that the whole family can enjoy, such as the ones on our our best app lists.
- Make setup fun, not frustrating. Truth be told, kids often figure out thorny tech glitches faster than parents, so involve your kids in the process. Use that time to discuss responsible use of the new device.
- Try some tech togetherness. Unplugging for its own sake isn't the point. Family time is. Plan a night of video games, movies, or maybe preselected YouTube videos that you can all enjoy together.
- Combine on- and offline activities. Document your family memories and consider compiling them into journals, cards, and scrapbooks. This is a perfect time to share your own holiday memories with your kids.
- If no creatures are stirring ... don't check your email. Remember, your kids learn their media habits partly from you. Use quiet time to reflect on ways you can maximize the benefits of technology without letting it take over your family's life.
- Have an old-fashioned holiday. Challenge your family to choose low- or no-tech versions of favorite activities. Generate fun on your own steam -- no WiFi, data, or plugs.
Have a great holiday break!
And, for tweens and teens who have constant access to devices, they can stumble across actual scenes of real-life violence in their social media and news feeds. But just because we have 24/7 access to news doesn't mean we have to let our kids witness everything from war to street violence. Check out How to Handle Violent Videos at Your Kid's Fingertips for practical ways to help children make informed decisions about their social media feeds -- and help put things in perspective for them when they do scroll by those violent videos and images.
October is Cyberbullying Awareness Month. This school year, you never know what might bubble up as the heady brew of hormones, relationships, and technology is stirred. Digital drama will play out in texts, on social media, and on popular teen websites. From forums that let kids pose hurtful questions to self-destructing messaging apps, new technologies enable novel ways to get attention, provoke, and try out online personas -- and they go viral fast.
Whether your kid is a bully or is being bullied, we answer all your cyberbullying questions, offering age-appropriate advice, school resources, and more from parents and experts. Popular apps, sites, and services also offer guidance and help when, where, and how kids need it.
What's the easiest thing you can do to impress prospective schools? It's not your GPA. It's not the debate team. It's your Facebook - and your Twitter, Snapchat, YouTub
Which books do you remember most from your childhood? The stories that made you laugh, cry, and dream? As you look for great reads for your kids, remember Common Sense offers a variety of curated book lists for children of all ages including 44 Books that Teach Empathy 50 Books All Kids Should Read Before They're 12 and Award-Winning Books for Teens. And, if reading is a challenge in your home, check out our blog post with top tips for How to Raise a Reader.
And, to help you find the best media for your family, download Common Sense's free Kids Media App. It makes finding appropriate movies, apps, TV shows, books, and more, a snap and, you can customize it for your kids.