It can be hard to find positive ways for families to use media with their children, so we brainstormed ideas to strengthen our interactions with children through media.
Zero to Three has some helpful tips for parents to enhance their child's experiences with media. The main goal is to make screen media an interactive learning experience.
When you put on your child's daily show, stay and watch with them to make the experience more interactive. Talk with your child about what is happening on the screen. Engage their thinking skills by asking questions about what they see. Encourage them to get up and act out what they see the characters doing. If the characters are dancing to a song on the screen, get up and dance with your child.
Make connections between the screen and real world experiences:
After watching a show, take your child outside to make connections to the world around them. If the characters on the screen went to a park, take your child to your local park and talk about the similarities between the on-screen and real-life settings. A show about animals can lead to a day at the zoo, where your child can make connections to what they learned on the show to their real life experiences.
Choosing Play Over Media
Although there are positive ways to engage your child in interaction through media use, it is still recommended to avoid screen media whenever possible, especially under the age of 2 years-old.
1. Do video and televised programs have any educational value for children under 2?
2. Is there any harm in children this age watching these programs?
Unstructured play is more beneficial for a child's development than any form of electronic media. Play encourages creativity, reasoning, problem solving, and motor skills. When children play on their own, they are learning the important skill of entertaining themselves.
When possible, encourage supervised independent play instead of putting on a show or movie. This can be done while you are cooking dinner, making a phone call, or trying to catch up on some work. Set up a game for your child that is safe and entertaining for independent play. One parent shared her success with using a special box of toys that she brings out when she has something important to do. This is a great idea for tasks that come up last minute.
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