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Tips for managing media



According to President Barack Obama, his kids don't watch TV on school nights:  "The girls don't watch TV during the week. Period. Very early on, we set expectations for Malia and Sasha in terms of them taking responsibility for their own education."

The Obamas are on the right track, according to Child Psychiatrist and Author Dr. Eitan Schwarz: "Parents should manage children's media consumption as they do a meal plan." Schwarz believes there needs to be "an ongoing commitment to organizing kids' media lives just as we manage nutrition."

Recent studies show that the more media permeates a home, the more family life deteriorates and the kids are less happy. In his new book, Kids, Parents, and Technology: An Instruction Guide for Young Families, Dr. Schwarz, gives parents tips to leverage their home-court advantage to make media a positive family life asset.

"Fathers, mothers, grandparents, teachers, therapists, pediatricians – we can all use new technologies to enhance families' health and young children's development."

Schwarz's tips for parents include:

  • Take Charge - Have confidence and take charge. You can manage this important area of your kids' lives. Many parents too readily take a back seat and let kids take the lead. In what other important area of life would they let that happen?
  • Media are Appliances - Start thinking of media as family appliances that must have positive values. Kids treat media as toys, but they are in fact adult tools with enormous power. Would you let your unsupervised young child use the telephone or oven? Only devices with proven benefits belong in children's hands.
  • Technology is Healthy - From infancy onwards, teach kids to appreciate technology as a healthy and routine part of family life. Starting young, children will learn that using technology is collaborative and social -- and not an isolating solitary activity.
  • Include the Whole Family - Create a new environment around the online family computer and other media to promote mutuality, fun, respect, and development for the entire family. Moving the home computer away from the wall and arranging seating all around it will make it a popular center for family life.
  • Make Media a Positive Learning Tool - Just as you already shop for healthy food, harvest the positive opportunities offered by media. For example, for every age group there are wonderful Internet sites that offer a world of learning and entertainment experiences.
  • Create Healthy Media Rules - Tailor healthy media diets into daily menus for each child to provide development opportunities. For example, schedule online time on sites that enhance good values and education enrichment.


Kids, Parents & Technology: An Instruction Guide for Young Families, a new book by Dr. Eitan Schwarz, is now available through www.mydigitalfamily.org.



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