NDSU Extension - Dickey County

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Resources Can Help Caring Adults Navigate the Media Maze

Breana Kiser, Agriculture and Natural Resource Agent

4-25-19 Media MazeIn 2002, most of us had not heard of Myspace, YouTube, gmail, Google apps, Twitter, Facebook or Netflix, yet today, students 16 and younger never have lived in a world without them.

Common Sense Media reports 95 percent of children under age 8 in America have access to a mobile device at home. One in three internet users worldwide is a kid or teen. Fifty percent of teens feel addicted to their mobile devices. Seventy-eight percent of teens check their devices at least hourly. What is a caring adult to do?

“Fortunately, there are some reliable resources parents, teachers, youth leaders, grandparents and others can turn to for help to keep up in this digital world,” says Breana Kiser, NDSU Extension Dickey County Agent.

The Center on Media and Child Health at http://cmch.tv features “Ask the Mediatrician.” Along with a question-and-answer format on everything from playing Fortnite to R-rated movies to children developing unrealistic body images through social media, the site has podcasts and articles on many other important topics centered around screens and social media, including problematic interactive media use.

Many experts advise parents to power down and/or collect devices an hour before bed. We are encouraged to hold device-free dinners and check our children’s media accounts, set parental controls and keep up with the latest technology, which changes seemingly by the hour.

Common Sense Media (www.commonsensemedia.org) is a resource that keeps adults up to date on media trends and stories. The site helps adults pick movies by the child’s age and even rates the content on several indicators, including positive messages, language, consumerism, violence and sex. The site also includes articles on video gaming and parental controls, discussions on various social media challenges and a family media agreement.

The Screen-free Week website (www.screenfree.org/about) explains that, “In 2010, TV Turnoff Week became Screen-Free Week and it found a new home at Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (https://commercialfreechildhood.org). During Screen-Free Week, kids and families can unplug and reconnect with the world around them. An hour that was once dedicated to TV can become an hour of make-believe, art, reading or enjoying nature. Both parents and kids can use this week to reconsider the value of screen-based entertainment in their lives and establish year-round screen-free habits.”

Download the Screen-Free Week organizers kit for great information and ideas for activities. You will be amazed at the free time you will find if you turn off your screens for a week.

David Walsh, American psychologist, educator and author specializing in parenting, family life and the impact of media on children and teens, cautions us that, “Parents, teachers, pastors, elders, authors and sages have been replaced as the primary storytellers by teams of Hollywood and video game scriptwriters, producers, directors and gamers. Tales told in gatherings, large or small, or tales read under the covers late at night have been replaced by multimillion-dollar electronic productions.”

Let’s be sure our children hear the stories from their own families, too.

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