How children use media has a lot to do with who they are. Although no two kids are exactly alike, children generally go through the same stages of development. Knowing these stages can help you encourage your child to use media in new and creative ways.
What you can do: Try to keep TV from being a default activity just because it is familiar. Your child may be losing interest in TV, so now is a great time to encourage other kinds of activities, especially physical ones. When you are helping your child with homework - perhaps on the computer - build in "get up and move around" breaks.
What you can do: Use the Web and TV to help your child explore questions that she may have about her body and personal development.
What you can do: Talk to your child about the food that she sees advertised on TV and why it is - or isn't -what your family eats.
What you can do: If you haven't already, place the TV and computer in high-traffic spots in the house so they are not solitary activities. Sometimes, you may choose to integrate TV viewing and computer use into larger family activities. Other times, you may want to turn both off so the family can focus on other activities, games or conversations.
What you can do: Help your child find an outlet for her emotions. When watching TV or playing video games, point out when a character resolves a conflict in a non-physical and non-aggressive way. Suggest a new game or activity if your child becomes critical or overly emotional when playing certain games.
What you can do: Help your child learn more about her interests. Introduce Web sites, books and videos that have information about the things that she collects. If she visits sites that support trading, help her understand what may be involved, like extra fees, personal information collection and return policies.
What you can do: Help your child understand that what her friends get to do or have - like staying up late to watch a TV show or buying the newest video game - may be different from her own experience. Help her understand the reasoning behind your media decisions.
What you can do: Avoid TV shows and movies that are violent and frightening, such as stories that depict kidnapping. If your child becomes scared by something she sees, talk about it and assure her she is safe.
What you can do: Introduce your child to video games and Web sites that allow her to compete but not through violence and gore. Encourage your child to be a good sport, even when playing against the computer.
What you can do: Help your child find captivating TV shows and worthwhile Web sites. Try not to surf channels or sites aimlessly. Instead, look through program listings to see what will be on TV and ask a librarian for help navigating the Web. Bookmark reliable geography sites that your child can use to find out about new locations.
What you can do: Ask your child questions about movies that interest her. Find out why certain movies are appealing by starting a conversation about the actors, story or special effects.