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: Choose TV shows and computer activities that give your child chances to do these activities. Also, limit his screen time so he can use actual paints, books and non-electronic games.
What you can do: Give your child lots of chances to play and encourage your child to read books, visit Web sites and watch shows that teach him more about his interests.
What you can do: Encourage your child's reading whenever you can. Ask him to read words on TV and computer screens. If he has a favorite TV show, use it as a way to connect to books by visiting the library and checking out stories that have similar themes and familiar characters.
What you can do: This is an important time to "catch" your child being good. Give him compliments when he is doing something that pleases you, such as turning off the TV when you say so.
What you can do: Avoid TV shows and movies that are scary and violent. If your child becomes scared, assure him that everyone is safe. If he sees something that triggers fear, like a lightening storm, explain where lightening comes from and why there's no need to be afraid. If simple explanations with words don't calm his fear, offer a favorite stuffed animal or a hug.
What you can do: Your child may be using play as a way to work through his feelings. For example, when your child pretends that he is fighting bad guys, he may be working out a fear. Get to know the characters that interest your child - even those from TV shows and video games. Encourage him to think about how he - not the superhero that he's pretending to be - can work through situations that he creates during his play.
What you can do: It is helpful to remind your child what you expect and give him warnings so he can prepare. For example, if your child has a limited amount of time to play on the computer, say so, and give a 10-minute and a 2-minute reminder before the time is up.
What you can do: In addition to setting limits on the amount of time your child watches TV and plays on the computer, get him moving his body. Use the TV as a reminder: If a character does something physical on a show, like dancing, encourage your child to try it while he's watching. Or remind him of things that he's seen his favorite characters doing and ask if he'd like to do it too.
What you can do: Let your child know that there are many different cultures and many different points of view. Help your child explore the world by visiting Web sites and watching programs that introduce new people, places and ideas.