Parenting Perspectives: Family Media Rules

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This month in our Parenting Perspectives series, we are tackling family media rules. Hopefully, you’ll find a variety of perspectives. Everyone has wisdom to share with other parents and each family’s situation is different, so please join in the conversation in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Struggling with family rules for media and social media? Check out these ideas!

Screen Time

When our kids were younger, we were very strict about screen time, but in recent history we have loosened up a bit. Our limits are based on a few things. Did you do anything else today? Especially now that summer is here. Is it changing your behavior? If our kids are asked to turn off electronics and that results in meltdowns etc. then we modify usage. Or are certain show contributing to poor choices in other aspects of their lives. If so then we help our kids pick different things to watch. Our kids rarely watch tv, they use Netflix, because of the steady stream of commercials we can then avoid. – E.M. (children’s ages – 5 & 6)

We have a Friday Night Family movie night. No more than 30 minutes screen time – this may include a family video game, or a show (like Daniel Tiger). We have not always been disciplined with this, when our oldest was an only child, Dora ran rampant – we can’t even believe that now. We have seen the negative effect too much TV time has, so we are much better about that this summer, and we have noticed the difference in their patience, and overall satisfaction with their day. – E.S. (children’s ages – 5, 3, & newborn)

We let them watch about 1-2 hrs of TV a day – usually in the evening after pick up when I need to get stuff done (ie dinner etc). This includes all screen time. If we think they’ve watched too much then we’ll have a no screen time day. – C.H. (children’s ages – 2.5 & 4)

With my oldest child, we really didn’t let him have hardly any screen time until he was 3 years old. I started letting him watch an hour of tv a day while my younger son was taking his afternoon nap. It was the easiest way to keep him quiet. Now, both our kids can have an hour of screen time a day. – A.J. (children’s ages – 4 & 6)

We mainly let our kids manage their own media consumption. They know our rules about violence and our expectations about maintaining balance in their activities and taking care of their responsibilities (like homework and chores). Sometimes they need gentle reminders about balance or encouragement to try something else if a video game gets a little heated. We also have a no media policy on family vacations – it’s good for everyone to take a break and spend time together. – M.M. (children’s ages – 10 & 11)

Our limit is 40 min/day – basically 2 shows without commercials. This gives the kids time to decompress after a long day at school/daycare & me time to make dinner. Our rules tend to vary when we’re on vacation or some weekends based on what else we’re doing. – E.W. (children’s ages – 5 & 2.5)

During the school year, our kids get screen time during breakfast and one hour of screen time after school. We occasionally allow additional screen time if they complete homework quickly. As a family, we watch a few sitcoms weekly and do not count this against screen time. We don’t have set limits for weekends but do try to keep the kids off their devices/away from the TV as much as seems reasonable for the mood of that particular day. – A.C. (children’s ages – 8 & 11)

Movie Ratings

As they are young we rarely watch anything that is not G rated. – E.M. (children’s ages – 5 & 6)

We typically screen the movie first. But we have seen some at the theater for the first time together. I recently took them to A Night At The Museum (the first one on a re-screen), and though there were parts they really enjoyed, it was too much for them. At one point, my daughter put her head inside her camera bag and hid, and my son held up his hand and yelled “stop”, as if there was oncoming traffic. It was a learning experience for me, and I liked how sensitive and empathetic they were to what was going on. – E.S. (children’s ages – 5, 3, & newborn)

As for movies, I check common sense media to judge whether or not the kids can watch the movie. We try to stay away from violent television or cartoons. However, when my oldest child turned 6, we let him watch Star Wars. He had been obsessed with Star Wars ever since he was 4. Someone was having a Star Wars birthday party at the park. – A.J. (children’s ages – 4 & 6)

We’ve always used Common Sense Media to get good information about a movie’s content. At this age, we care less about the rating and more about the presence of violence or misogyny. – M.M. (children’s ages – 10 & 11)

The subject matter of PG movies is usually just a bit over our oldest’s head. The biggest thing I look for in a movie is emotional intensity – we’re very much into silly movies right now. Too much “real” emotion can be difficult for our oldest. – E.W. (children’s ages – 5 & 2.5)

For movies, I find ratings not that helpful at this point. He self selects somewhat with movies. For instance, finding nemo was too much. He really loves the cars movies. I refuse to let him watch bambi, fox and the hound, dumbo, etc because I can’t handle them. One of the movies I really regret letting him see is the lego movie. One of the things he struggles with is inappropriate modeling of fighting behavior in places where it’s discouraged (school), so we try to minimize that content as much as possible. – V. J. (child’s age – 6)

We do not allow the kids to watch an R rated movies. We watch PG-13 movies with them and will stop the movie if it becomes too violent or too sexually explicit. – A.C. (children’s ages – 8 & 11)

I periodically check his Netflix. When it comes to movies, we are more flexible with language and sexual content, but inflexible with violent treatment of women, etc. He really has little desire to push the envelope and see movies that are R rated. – D.M. (children’s ages – 14 & adults)

Internet

Research. We want them to understand that the internet can be used to gather information. An example would be finding a butterfly or bug outside and then trying to match in online with google images. We’ve done some nonfiction books on Bookflix through the library. –  E.S. (children’s ages – 5, 3, & newborn)

We haven’t established any online rules yet. – A.J. (children’s ages – 4 & 6)

Our son is 11, so our rules on this will soon have to evolve. But, for now, the kids are not allowed to participate in social media or join any site where they can communicate with other users. We do allow YouTube, as the site’s standards are decently strict. Nevertheless, we do spot-check monitoring of what they are watching. – A.C. (children’s ages – 8 & 11)

Video Games

Our kids play some educational games and have since preschool. We will use TV or iPad when our child’s anxiety is amped.- E.M. (children’s ages – 5 & 6)

I guess both kids first played a game at 2. This is partly because I enjoy games, and I sold my wife on the idea that there’s more strategizing, more communication in games than in TV.  The games we have tried so far were: The Beatles Rock Band and The Lego Movie video game. We’ve also tried Wii Sports. The best games allow opportunities for strategy. – E.S.  (children’s ages – 5, 3, & newborn)

We have a few apps for kids on my ipad, but my kids haven’t started playing video games yet. I actually used an app to potty train my kids. The other apps we have are lego apps and learn to read apps. As for more typical video games, I figure once we let the genie out of the bottle, it will be hard to get it back inside.  -A.J. (children’s ages – 4 & 6)

We don’t have strict regulations – but definitely check out any games before buying and after buying – with adults we trust who are gamers. We live on almost 5 acres – he is kicked outside periodically. I don’t have strict times because he has friends who homeschool, public school, etc and they all have different schedules. I’m more flexible when he’s playing online with kids I know. – D.M. (children’s ages – 14 & adults)

We’ll use the ipad for car/ travel over about 45 minutes. Sometimes we’ll take it in with us, but not often. When sitting still at a restaurant seems like it will be a challenge, we will use the ipad. We’re really interested in building basic coding literacy, so we are encouraging apps and board games (robot turtle, etc) that teach him how to build sequences of steps to accomplish an entire task. – V. J. (child’s age – 6)

Social Media

We have not crossed that bridge yet. Maybe at 15, with friends approved by us- mostly consisting of family that lives out of town? I would prefer a program like Ello, which is ad free and focuses more on creativity. We’ll probably make our kids “friend” us until they are 17. – E.S.  (children’s ages – 5, 3, & newborn)

Our boys are going into 6th grade and are itching for social media accounts. We decided to start with Instagram. Before they got their accounts, we asked them to spend a month curating the pictures (and captions) they would use on an Instagram account. It was like a trial run, where we could give them feedback before they actually got their accounts. They have to let us follow them and can’t block us, plus we know all their passwords. – M.M. (children’s ages – 10 & 11)

No social media at this point. I’m hoping I have at least another 6 years before I need to think about it. And who knows what options we’ll have, then! – E.W. (children’s ages – 5 & 2.5)

Our kids only have email at the moment and we know their user names and passwords. We haven’t determined [social media rules] yet. Our generation of parents are on the vanguard in terms of allowing/monitoring social media use and, as such, there are no proven standards to follow. We’ll have to make it up as we go along. – A.C. (children’s ages – 8 & 11)

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4 comments

  1. Cole says:

    I enjoyed reading all of these different views on screen time and what not. It’s interesting to read what other parents will allow, but it definitely made me realize that I’m a very easy going parent and that’s probably not a good thing!

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