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: Include your child in making family plans, clarifying where TV and computers do — and don't — fit in. Help her set limits and make a plan by giving her tools, like a calendar on the computer, where she can keep track of events, chores and homework.
What you can do: Help your child select good role models. Talk about the people she sees on TV and hears on the radio who may have caught her attention. Let your child know that girls and boys can be anything they want to be.
What you can do: When your child is doing something on the computer or playing a video game, help her do it well. This — along with your praise — will help her feel confident.
What you can do: What your child does during the day can affect her dreams. Help her stay away from things that may be frightening, like certain TV shows and video games. If your child sees something that makes her uncomfortable, talk about it with her.
What you can do: Expose your child to TV shows, movies, Web sites and books that challenge her to think by introducing her to new topics. Ask your child questions and find out what's on her mind.
What you can do: Encourage your child to learn how different media work. If she is interested, teach her how to work the family video camera (if you have one) or enroll her in a video class at the library, community college or local recreation center. Also, introduce your child to brainteaser Web sites and books.
What you can do: Help your child avoid TV shows and movies that reinforce stereotypes about what "girls can do" and what "boys can do." Ask her what she thinks the boys and girls in her class can do. Remind her that men and women can make many choices about who they want to be.
What you can do: If you let your child watch younger siblings, encourage them to play a game together or stage their own "TV show" or play. Help your child understand that a good babysitter is more than someone who watches TV with young kids.
What you can do: Try not to let TV and video games get in the way of sports and physical play. When your child is watching a show or visiting a Web site about sports and athletes, encourage her to learn more about what physical things she can do.
What you can do: Set up clear rules about sharing the computer, video game system and TV in your home. Your child may feel cheated if it's not clear who gets to do what and when. Also, talk to her about how characters on TV may or may not be behaving in ways that are fair or honest.
What you can do: If your child is interested in something, help her learn more about it by finding related Web sites and videos and taking trips to the library. Introduce her to different cultures, customs, people and places.