Parents' Role as Media Filters

This article is partsp;4 of 4 in a series on Kids & TV


  • Taming TV: Has Television Gotten Worse?

  • How to Use the TV Ratings

  • The Effects of Seeing TV Violence

  • Parents' Role as Media Filters

  • By Lisa Kosan

    When it comes to children and TV, computers, video games, music and other media, parents are once again their kids' best guides. Here are some tips you can use to help children better understand the media images and content they're exposed to every day. This information was provided by Peter Gorski, M.D., M.P.A., a nationally known pediatrician serving on the American Academy of Pediatrics' Bright Futures Early Childhood Expert Panel.


    • Reflect with your child on what he or she sees, hears or reads in the media to install or restore a balanced perspective.

    • Point out alternative ways to handle a situation depicted in the media.

    • Consider the moral value and message in whatever media information a child is exposed to.

    • Spend a couple of hours noticing all the things your child sees, reads and hears, and what messages these impart.

    • Inquire where your child got a particular point of view. Only then do you have an opportunity to think about its reasonableness.

    • Become more involved in your child's daily life. That's the best protection against the pernicious influence of the media.

    Setting (Effective) Limits

    If you want to limit your children's exposure to inappropriate media - particularly during times when you can't be there to monitor it - try these strategies:

    • Don't be bashful about your family's beliefs when arranging a play date or sleep-over. Request that no scary, violent or sexual films or TV programs be shown. If you're worried about insulting the host, just say that you'd be grateful if they would respect your wishes for your child.


    • Limit your child's use of the Internet to a computer in a frequented family area. You'll have more control over what sites the child visits and how much time is spent surfing the Web.

    • If you're going to ban your kids from watching a particular TV show or movie, tell them why. Explain that the characters are intolerant, bigoted and use foul language. Tell them that there's too much sex or violence.

    • Consider using computer software that blocks a child's access to Web sites with sexual or violent content. But realize that some of the software in use is quite broad and will prevent your kids from visiting sites for things like Nintendo games.