Experts recommend that parents keep a close eye on what children watch given that according to research, 90% of movies, 68% of video games, 60% of TV shows and 15% of music videos have some form of violence.
Children can view media content on television, as well as on their devices such as laptops and smartphones. It has therefore become increasingly important to monitor what they watch. Evidence suggests that exposure to violence in younger children may lead to increased aggression and difficulty with self-regulation. Particularly worrying is that it could also desensitise children to violence, making them less likely to avoid behaviour that could harm victims of their aggression.
Guidelines for monitoring your child’s viewing:
In the open
Don’t allow televisions and devices in the bedroom. Encourage viewing in communal spaces where you can keep an eye and ear on what they are watching.
Enforce parental control settings on platforms such as YouTube and Netflix.
Limit the amount of time spent on devices and encourage children to read and enjoy other activities that require them to use their imaginations.
Adhere to the age ratings on shows and video games and only allow children to watch or play age-appropriate content.
Use apps that provide an additional layer of security if your children interact with each other online. FYI safe web allows parents to monitor children’s activities from any web browser on any device. It allows parents to keep an eye on online interactions without invading their privacy. “While tweens and teenagers are focused on having fun and meeting new friends online, parents need to balance the tension between respecting their children’s privacy and navigating the risks presented by social media platforms, gaming, anonymous chat rooms and search engine content,” says Rachelle Best, CEO and Founder of FYI play it safe. Download the app at www.fyiplayitsafe.com and follow the easy three-step sign-up process to start your free 7-day trial.
Read here for more online safety tips
Talk about it
Have honest conversations about the nature of disturbing content. Talk about the impact that watching these shows could have on their mental wellbeing and even their sleep.
Talk to your children about ‘netiquette’. Evgeniya Naumova, Executive Vice President for Corporate Business and Deputy CBDO for Commercial at Kaspersky, says a recent study found that parents spent only 46 minutes throughout their children’s entire childhood talking about online safety, despite being concerned about their wellbeing. “Make a daily habit of accompanying your children while surfing the web, explaining some of the basic dos and don’ts, and discussing their online experiences.” Naumova says that seeing how and where your child spends time online allows you to understand how best to keep them secure.
Have access to your children’s devices and understand the games they play. Watch the shows that you are concerned about. If they start talking about a theme or game they have seen in a show which you have deemed inappropriate, you will know that you must take action.
Get to know their friends
Know your child’s online friends. You ask questions about your children’s friends at school. Make sure you do the same about their online friends, advises Naumova. “Even though online dangers can seem more benign, bad associations in the digital world can be just as potent as those in the physical one. They can come in the form of trolls, cyberbullies, groomers, fraudsters, and other bad elements. “
Meet the parents
While it is not always possible to monitor what your children watch when they are not at home, speak to their friends’ parents and voice your concerns. Reach an agreement about the amount of screen time, and content, that the children may access during a playdate or visit.