Third in a Series - How violence in TV and movies affects children and what to do about it was discussed recently in a four-part national satellite program series, "The Impact of Entertainment Media Violence on Children and Families," sponsored by Iowa State University Extension and Buena Vista Extension office.
Parents and other caregivers can make media use a healthy part of children's lives. "When it comes to media and young children, grown-ups are the gatekeepers," said Faith Rogow, president, Alliance for a Media Literate America. She suggests the following:
* Do a values assessment. Make a list of the values you most want to pass along to your child and use that list to evaluate the media your child sees. If the messages in your child's media diet contradict your values, make alternative media choices.
* Look at the balance. Look at how your child uses media, and plan screen time to fit into a balanced routine of activities that include chances to be alone and with others, to be quiet and noisy, to have conversations and to express themselves through art, to move around and to sit in your lap.
* Observe behavior and mood. Watch your child's non-verbal cues. If, after viewing or playing a video game your child is aggressive, cranky, or scared, you may want to make different media choices.
* Remember that the message is in the images. To see what your child might be most likely to remember, watch television programs or play video games with the sound off. Images are more powerful than words, especially for young children.
* Assess educational value and age-appropriate language.
* Separate programs and products. Imaginary play is an important way for children to learn about the world and their place in it. Limit the number of media-related toys in your home and provide lots of generic toys. Children who only play with media-related toys may not be getting enough chances to use their imagination.
To learn more about the effects of violence on children, contact BV Extension.
To access websites and other resources on media violence and media literacy go to the Iowa State University Extension website www.extension.iastate.
edu/families/media/resources.html. Videotapes of all four satellite sessions are available for checkout for a small fee from the Buena Vista County Extension office. Phone 712-732-5056.