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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Media Awareness 2

Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization (WHO) have published recommendations for the proper use of media.

WHO is so concerned about the effects of media on the mental health of adolescents that it recommends policy makers to monitor the nature, extent, and context of violence in all forms of media and implement appropriate guidelines, standards and penalties. It further recommends that education in media awareness become a priority and a part of school curricula.

WHO further recommends that parents should be aware of the risks associated with children viewing violent imagery as it promotes aggressive attitudes, antisocial behavior, fear and de-sensitization. The last point about sensitization needs a word of explanation with the following example. Suppose we come upon a scene of accident, what will we do? Our natural response will be to go and help. Scenes depicting violence are common in prime time programs and in non-educational afternoon programs for children. When we see an accident or a violence being committed in TV, we are passive observers sitting there munching on snacks as if nothing has happened. When we sit through several such scenes over the years, we get desensitized and lose the natural human tendency to help.

WHO recommend that parents review the nature, extent, and context of violence available to their children before viewing and assist children understand the imagery.

American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents do not provide TV/computer in children’s bedroom, limit media use to 2 hours per day, monitor the use of media by children, watch TV with children and follow up with a discussion of the program itself as outlined earlier.

What about the risks associated with the use of Internet and interactive media? All of you are aware of this. However, for the sake of completion let me list them for you. You may wish to add more.


Invasion of privacy

On-line predator

Cyber bullying


Violent pictures

Spam/gambling and so on

So, what can we do about all of this?

First, know the current status of how you and your family members use the media. You and your child can answer the following questions developed by the American Medical Association for use by physicians during office visits.

How many hours a day do you watch TV?

How do you decide what shows to watch? Movies?

Where is (are) the televisions in your house?

Are there house rules regarding viewing (eg: no viewing until home work is completed)

What are your favorite TV programs? Movies?

Are there rules regarding music videos? Video games?

Who watches TV with you?

Do you surf the internet? For how many hours? For what?

You can also look at your style in managing your child’s media habits. Are you restrictive? Are you instructive? Or, do you just let the child do what he or she wants to do with media? Or, do you use several methods? Do you use media as baby-sitter?

Be a role model for your child; do not become a TV addict. Set house rules for use of media; include children in setting rules. Teach them that TV is not reality. Teach them that TV is commercially driven. Watch TV with children; discuss with your child what you saw, after each show. Use the following ideas for discussion, as suggested by a website ( They are:

After watching a program:

Ask them open-ended questions

LISTEN to their answers

What did they like and dislike?


If they like things that you do not like, tell them why – DO NOT PUT THEM DOWN


If you watch an AD together:

Use PBS site on “dontbuyit” to teach about how ads are made

Teach them to ask questions

What is the message?

Who is behind this message?

Is this person qualified to talk about this subject/product?

Is this person doing it for money?

Does this person have a conflict of interest?

Is he/she telling me everything about this idea/product or leaving out some?

If the person is leaving out, what is that information? Why is this information left out?

What is the technique used to convince me and influence me?

If it is a violent show or movie you have been watching:

Ask questions such as

If this happened in real life who will be hurt?

How will the victim and family feel?

Will their lives ever get back to normal?

Even if does, at what cost to emotion, happiness and finances?

Who is scared, mad or sad?

How much will be the damage to property and Hospital bills?

How about some non-violent methods of solving the conflict?

If this happened in front of you in real life, what will you do? What should you do?

In the March 27, 2006 issue of TIME magazine, Dr.Edward Hallowell gave several ideas to help parents. They are:

Create time to be with your children doing non-tech things such as : Outings, car wash, gardening – tell them that this is not time for I-pods etc. It is family time.

See the shows with them. Spend a few minutes after that to discuss. This is a teaching moment.

Get on the internet and download MP 3. Let the children show how to send messages. Let the children be your guide. That will make them feel good. You can see what they are doing. Make sure you then teach them how to use the media safely and wisely.

Set limits: On duration of time spent, on content and on location ( eg: no TV or ipods during meal time); Control accessible sites on TV and internet.

Teach them “techno-manners”.

Look for positive ways children use media and give them positive feedbacks. Use this to enhance relationships.

Teach them difference between reality and fantasy. Teach them that real life decisions and actions have real consequences. Teach them alternative ways of dealing with anger, conflicts, difficult friends etc.

Involve the children and develop media rules for your family.

DO not be just a disapproving elder.

Be a role model – by not being a TV addict yourself!!

Teach children media literacy and financial literacy

Teach children healthy activities to relieve boredom.

Use TV diary to monitor yourself and the children

Note: We still need some ideas on how to help parents who feel guilty about not spending time with children and yield to the children on important matters such as video time etc and those who use media as “baby-sitters”.

1 comment:

LD said...

I agree with all your ideas in theory, yet in practice the media noise can be incorporated as a "natural" part of daily life. Rather than framing the issue in terms of limits why not use it to teach respect, consciousness and intention about what individuals and other family members need. It is good when an adult models "I feel a need for some quiet." Let's agree to have an hour of quiet and then make a new plan. Getting everyone on the same 'schedule' is also key. Control the atmosphere of all noise, media or other. There are some situations where the familiar media sounds are comforting as well as educational. These times should be pointed out too. Morning news, singing along to radio songs (no individual ear phones) and snuggling up to a favorite movie is fun and relaxing as well as simple and inexpensive. Being clear about one's intention when the tv is turned on works may be a relaxing reward after a day's activities. Planning, sharing and discussing the experiences, rather than simply measuring limits is a useful way to begin dialog as you mentioned. Teaching intention...and recognizing mindless time wasting is key.