Monday, April 02, 2012

Easy way to have media's independent children

I will continue to share my way of raising my children media's independent. As they are growing I can see if I succeed or not. They are now 10 years old and I am pretty happy and proud of the result so far.
If you go back in the oldest post you will read more details about how I did it.
If I tried to summarize I would say that I did not let them watch any TV at all for the 2 first years of their life.
When they reached 2 and half years old, or around it, I believe that I showed them some animal's documentaries, but about 1 or 2 per month maximum. The trick was that since they were born the TV was off and hidden inside an piece of furniture. My husband and I were never watching TV while the children were awake. TV never was part of their life. They learn early on to entertain themselves the same way I did when I was a child as TV was not the center of a family life as it was just starting to exist.

When they got a little older, meaning walking, we started to go out a lot, socialize with other parents and children. Happily Los Angeles is full of opportunities for parents who want to be active with their children, a lot of mommy and me fun classes and get together.

We also started to hike and they absolutely adore it. Escaping in those mountain was always a way to relax.

Park and recreation centers in Los Angeles are also an amazing resource for parents, they offer amazing classes in many different activities, sport or art, for a very affordable fee. We definitively took advantage of it.

So it is easy to fill up a day without TV, plus children really belong outside, they literally love to be outside, play in the park, in the sand, in the soil, in nature.

Sure as all of you I did need to have time to cook meal, and I never put my children in front of the TV to have free time to cook. I let them play with their toys, leave them "read" their picture books, listen to their Cd's. I have to say that I did have a lot of Cd's, many of music but also many with stories. I particularly love those books with Cd's inside. They love to watch the pictures while somebody is reading the story to them. And they love it still today, at 10.

Here is a fact: children do not need TV!

Later on I did start to teach them media literacy. I never let them watch a commercial. that was pretty simple as we were just watching tapes or DVD. So I did explain to them what a commercial was and help them make one, I videotaped them making their own commercial, they were about 6 years old. I believe that there is no better way to understand what media are, commercial are by making it yourself. And yes, they did understood very well.

From there I did teach them more about media. We made more little video and I showed them movie from Melies and the Lumiere's brothers, explaining to them that it was the beginning of cinema.

I strongly believe that media education should start in Elementary school. But it is essential that this continue to be reinforce at home. You will be surprised by the number of mother who come to me and tell me how much they would love to keep the TV off but their husband would not...
Many husband seem to be spending a lot of time in front of TV, particularly watching sport. Those wife told me that they would not accept to turn the TV off.

So suppose I am really lucky to have an understanding and supportive husband.

As my children grew, it was completely natural for them not to watch TV. We watch some tapes and DVD together now and then, always more documentaries than movies or entertainment programs. I believe that watching TV along with the children is essential, this way they can share with you their emotion and ask you any question they want.
I also always preview those programs before showing them to them. That way they never were exposed to violence, particularly the free violence in so many movies and cartoon.

As you surely supposing, we do not do video game at home. Does not mean that my children do not know about it as they are playing sometime at their friends house. But they easily bored by video games, they prefer to be outside. Does not mean they do not like computer, they love them, they love to learn about them, use some educational CD rom, go on some interactive website, or check their email.

They love to make movies as well. And for me, this is a big part of media literacy education. By making video they learn all the tricks.

May be some of you will think that it is easy for me as I am not working outside my home. In fact, I do not think it makes any difference. If you are a working mom, your child must be in daycare or school were they are not supposed to watch TV.
When they get back home, if you never get them in the habit of watching TV and keep the TV off while they are awake, they will entertain themselves another way.

After all, many of us did not grew up with Television on and we were not bored or unhappy.
actually letting your baby find ways to entertain himself will be an asset for a lifetime.

I hope this is helping. do not hesitate to ask me any questions you want.

Children and TV: Limiting your child's screen time

Children and TV often go hand in hand. Understand the effects of too much screen time — and how to enforce reasonable limits.

By Mayo Clinic staff

Are you concerned about how much time your child spends watching TV or playing video games? Although some screen time can be educational, it's easy to go overboard. Consider this guide to children and TV, including what you can do to keep your child's screen time in check.

The effects of too much screen time

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting a child's use of TV, movies, video and computer games to no more than one or two hours a day. Too much screen time has been linked to:

  • Obesity. Children who watch more than two hours of TV a day are more likely to be overweight.
  • Irregular sleep. The more TV children watch, the more likely they are to resist going to bed and to have trouble falling asleep.
  • Behavioral problems. Elementary students who spend more than two hours a day watching TV or using a computer are more likely to have emotional, social and attention problems. Exposure to video games also increases the risk of attention problems in children. Children who watch excessive amounts of TV are more likely to bully than children who don't.
  • Impaired academic performance. Elementary students who have TVs in their bedrooms tend to perform worse on tests than those who don't.
  • Violence. Too much exposure to violence on TV and in movies, music videos, and video and computer games can desensitize children to violence. As a result, children may learn to accept violent behavior as a normal part of life and a way to solve problems.
  • Less time for play. Excessive screen time leaves less time for active, creative play.
  • How to limit screen time

    Your child's total daily screen time may be greater than you realize. Start monitoring it. In the meantime, you can take simple steps to reduce the amount of time your child spends watching TV, movies and videos or playing video or computer games:

    • Eliminate background TV. If the TV is turned on — even if it's just in the background — it's likely to draw your child's attention. If you're not actively watching a show, turn off the TV.
    • Keep TVs and computers out of the bedroom. Children who have TVs in their bedrooms watch more TV and videos than children who don't. Monitor your child's screen time and the websites he or she is visiting by keeping computers in a common area in your house.
    • Don't eat in front of the TV. Allowing your child to eat or snack in front of the TV increases his or her screen time. The habit also encourages mindless munching, which can lead to weight gain.
    • Set school day rules. Most children have limited free time during the school week. Don't let your child spend all of it in front of a screen. Avoid using TV and video or computer games as a reward for finishing homework and chores.
    • Talk to your child's caregivers. Encourage other adults in your child's life to limit your child's screen time, too.
    • Suggest other activities. Rather than relying on screen time for entertainment, help your child find other things to do. Consider classic activities, such as reading, playing a sport or trying a new board game.
    • Set a good example. Be a good role model by limiting your own screen time.
    • Unplug it. If screen time is becoming a source of tension in your family, unplug the TV, turn off the computer or put away the video games for a while. You might designate one day a week a screen-free day. To prevent unauthorized TV viewing, put a lock on your TV's electrical plug.

    Become an active participant

    When your child has screen time, make it as engaging as possible:

    • Make viewing an event. Rather than keeping the TV on all of the time, treat watching TV as though you were planning to see a movie in a theater. Choose a show and pick a specific time to watch it.
    • Plan what your child views. Instead of flipping through channels, seek quality videos or use a program guide to select appropriate shows. Pay attention to TV Parental Guidelines — a system that rates programs based on suitability for children. Make a list of the programs your child can watch for the week and post it in a visible spot, such as near the TV or on the refrigerator. Use parental control settings on your home computer. Preview video games before allowing your child to play them.
    • Watch with your child. Whenever possible, watch programs together — and talk about what you see.
    • Record programs and watch them later. This will allow you to skip or fast-forward through commercials selling toys, junk food and other products, as well as pause a program when you want to discuss something you've watched — such as a depiction of family values, violence or drug abuse. When watching live programs, use the mute button during commercials.
    • Choose video games that encourage physical activity. Better yet, make the games a family experience.

    It can be difficult to start limiting your child's screen time, especially if your child already has a TV in his or her bedroom or your family eats dinner in front of the TV. It's worth the effort, however. By creating new household rules and steadily making small changes in your child's routine, you can curb screen time and its effects.