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: When you and your child are watching a video, turn it into a storytelling game. After a character in the show does something important, or right before the ending, turn off the program and ask your child to guess what will happen next. Once your child has made up her version, resume watching, pointing out what was different or the same.
What you can do: Try to pick computer games that allow your child to set the rules or that have an "explore mode" that lets your child experiment. Before your child begins to play, check the settings of the game to see what's possible — sometimes there is a "Parents" button.
What you can do: Avoid TV shows that your child may find frightening--especially right before bedtime. If she becomes scared, reassure her that everyone is safe. A hug and a favorite toy may bring comfort.
What you can do: When your child has a strong emotional response, help her cope by supplying words that she can use. You might say, "I can see you are angry that we had to turn off the TV to get ready to leave," and "You probably feel sad that your drawing on the computer got erased." Also, try to avoid TV programs, books and video games that depict characters resolving conflict with physical violence.
What you can do: In addition to setting limits on the amount of time your child watches TV and plays on the computer, get her moving, skipping, running, balancing, throwing, climbing, jumping rope, galloping, hopping and dancing.
What you can do: Let your child know when it is and is not okay to watch TV and use the computer. Try to be consistent and avoid introducing what may seem to be new rules in the middle of a disagreement with your child.
What you can do: Your child may need some down time, especially when first adjusting to preschool. Instead of using the TV as a way to let your child zone out, find other quiet activities, like drawing or listening to soothing music.
What you can do: Choose TV shows and software that introduce your child to people with different backgrounds. Help your child understand that not all families look the same. Encourage respect for others by introducing her to a variety of dolls, foods, programs and songs.
What you can do: When she's watching TV or playing on the computer, encourage your child to use a pencil and paper to copy letters and numbers that she sees. Also, point out characters and scenes that she can draw or paint.
What you can do: Select TV shows and computer activities that give your child a chance to sort, group, match, count and create sequences. Help her put away books, videos and other toys according to categories. For example, "Let's first put away all of the books about animals."
What you can do: After watching a TV show, ask your child "what if" questions, like "What if D.W. was older than her brother Arthur?"
What you can do: Choose TV programs, computer activities and books that introduce your child to cause and effect and show her how things work. Look for take-apart and put-together activities, games that use mechanical objects and sequences where one event leads to another.
What you can do: Talk to your child about why a TV character does something and what makes that character's behavior right or wrong.