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Archive for February, 2012

SHOOTING IN OHIO SCHOOL PROVIDES ANOTHER OPENING TO TALK TO KIDS ABOUT VIOLENCE

Posted on: February 28th, 2012 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

With recent discussion of how the media plays a very large role in our families’ lives, the nation has undergone a tragedy that in part may have been caused by the ever-present violence in the media today. Continuing the communication with tweens and teens could have saved four lives in Chardon, Ohio earlier this week. The three children who were killed and the alleged murder himself.

Media violence ranges from cartoon slapstick to bloody gore, and it’s in everything our kids watch and play. If you’ve tried a T- or M-rated video game lately, or seen a cop show or music video, you’ve seen this kind of violence. It’s in practically every form of kids’ entertainment. Video games allow players to attack and kill one another, sometimes in very graphic ways. Studies show that aggressive video gaming affects kids. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics says that “playing violent video games leads to adolescent violence like smoking leads to lung cancer.”

You may ask yourself why it matters.

When kids watch media and play games loaded with violence, studies show it can lead to harmful acts and bullying as well as making your child think that performing these acts is proper. And the more aggressive behavior kids see, the more it becomes an acceptable way to settle conflicts. They may even become less sensitive to those who suffer from real violence by not stopping bullying or fights when they see them occur.

Younger kids are particularly vulnerable to the health effects of media violence – especially kids under 7, who often can’t tell the difference between fantasy and reality. The younger kids are, the more longlasting the effects. These include nightmares and anxiety, and fearing that the world is scary and mean.

Common Sense Media provides these great tips for parents:

Explain consequences. What parent hasn’t heard “but there’s no blood” as an excuse for watching a movie or playing a video game? Explain the true consequences of violence. Point out how unrealistic it is for people to get away with violent behavior.

Keep an eye on the clock. Don’t let kids spend too long with virtual violence. The more time spent immersed in violent content, the greater its impact and influence.

Teach conflict resolution. Most kids know that hitting someone on the head isn’t the way to solve a disagreement, but verbal cruelty is also violent. Teach kids how to use their words responsibly to stand up for themselves without throwing a punch.

Know your kids’ media. Check out ratings and, when there are none, find out about content. Content in a 1992 R-rated movie is now acceptable for a PG-13. Streaming online videos are not rated and can showcase very brutal stuff.

Be proactive.  Encourage your kids to talk about any strange behavior, rumors, etc. of any other students who may need help.  Empowering kids to be part of the solution gives them the ability to be proactive in the future.

Although we may not find out the exact cause of the recent school shooting for a while or ever we must be proactive in our stance on protecting our children from violent influences and unsupervised exposure to inappropriate material. No matter what you believe, safeguarding our children from violence against anyone, including themselves, is paramount.

Make sure your kids understand that violence is not a solution. Ever. It’s just a catalyst for anger, sadness and revenge. Explain to them that the solution is not easy but well worth it. And it begins with them.

Sources

www.CommonSenseMedia.org

www.TBParenting.com

SEXTING AND YOUR TEENAGER

Posted on: February 22nd, 2012 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

In 2011, teens spent, on average, 2.7 hours a day on their cell phones. That’s more than twice the amount of time they spent eating and almost 1/3 of the time they spent asleep. But with all that time on their cell phones, what exactly are teens doing? A large portion of teens spend the majority of that time on social media sites but a growing number of kids, ages 12 – 17 are “sexting”.

“Sexting” is the act of sending sexually explicit messages, pictures or videos to one or multiple people. It’s essentially equivalent to phone sex but generally doesn’t involve live communications. But as a parent, you may feel hopeless that a tool you’ve provided your child to stay connected has exposed them to activities that could come back to haunt them later in life.

Only you can decide when your child is mature enough to have a cell phone. You should never feel pressured by your child or other families to purchase a cell phone for them if they are NOT ready. But when you do, establish rules.

Many cell phone providers now have options for parents to control incoming and outgoing data from your child’s cell phone including calls, message, videos, pictures and more. Although these tools are helpful they don’t specifically target the cause of the problem and impose rules and guidelines set up by parents.

Although it may an uncomfortable topic to discuss, take the time to explain the consequences of “sexting”. When children truly grasp all of the negative effects of their actions they will learn to be responsible, respect you and most importantly respect themselves.

Sources

www.TBParenting.com

www.ThatsNotCool.com

www.CommonSenseMedia.org

TOO SEXY TOO SOON

Posted on: February 21st, 2012 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

The adolescent stage of your daughter’s life is the most impressionable period for them. They will look to any source of information, which will inevitable influence their characteristics, beliefs and standards.  Certainly T.V. plays a large part in what she is exposed to. Nowadays you see girls getting spray tanned, waxed and wearing high heels in kindergarten.  Why? Because they’re probably saw it somewhere.

“Increasingly over the past 10 years, we’ve seen an escalation in the sexualization of young girls,” says Deborah Tolman, professor of social welfare and psychology and founding director of the ASAP Initiative, which does research and analysis of sexuality for action and policy. “There’s an inappropriate imposition of sexuality on young girls, and, as girls enter adolescence, they’re learning to sexualize themselves,” she says.

The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which Tolman is a part of, is a organization comprised of academic, celebrities and filmmakers that has made it’s mission to combat the over sexualization of the media and marketing practices.

With the media having a 24/7 in your families life, it is important to realize the impact it has on your kids and take action. Here are some tips to help parents with young girls…and boys.

Don’t Buy In

Help your kids stay kids by not buying outfits, makeup, and other “grown up” accessories. Don’t give into the begging. This just enables your child even more. State your case as to why you’re not buy the product and move on.  Set the rules and stick to them.  Earings, cellphones, makeup, etc.

Seek Out Positive Role Models

Help expand their horizons by finding role models in books, on TV, in movies, and in real life that show kids how they can be recognized for their talents and brains rather than their looks or behavior.  Nothing is more important than children gaining self esteem and attention from their talents rather than what they are wearing or what they look like.

Help Them Develop A Healthy Self-Image

Help them figure out whether they’re acting out of their own motivations or trying to be more popular by fitting someone else’s ideal. When they love themselves they can love you and grow.

Resist Consumerist Messages

When spending a mother-daughter day try something other than shopping or going to the movies. Enforce the message of spending time together not spending money.

Like in anything else, as the parent you must take charge. Expecting your child’s teacher’s, friend’s parents or even your spouse to the work. Take charge and instill the message you want in your child’s life.

To read more about this or get more insightful tips visit www.commonsensemedia.org.

THE “OTHER PARENT”

Posted on: February 8th, 2012 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

Imagine if there was an extra adult in your home parenting your child. Every day from dawn to dusk, this person would give your kids information on everything from schoolwork to more personal issues, like dating and relationships. And you have no say what they told your child. In a 24/7 media environment many kids are averaging more hours spent with a media source than with a single parent. Some people call this “the other parent”.

The influence the media has on our children penetrates much deeper than most parents think. If you don’t think so, take a stroll to your kids’ rooms. Look no further than the Ariel costume in your daughter’s closet or the lightsaber in your son’s toy chest. This example shows how easily the media can influence your child to like something or someone.

At around middle school kids start to see the media as a peer looking for guidance. Parents may remain the primary influence in their kids’ lives, but the competition starts to get fierce at this age. This separation is entirely age appropriate. But when the media comes into play, the values you want to pass down to your kids may be competing against, say, Homer Simpson’s says Common Sense Media.

The media environment that families live in goes much further than television. It is ever present, 24-hours a day on the Internet, video games, social media and music. Smoking is a perfect example. A recent study showed that when kids were exposed to pro-tobacco marketing they had a greater chance of becoming smokers before turn 18.

That’s not to say that the media is a negative thing in our lives. Media provides us with limitless information, partnerships that span the world and so much more. The key is rules.

Common Sense Media shares these tips on to help parents:

Limit screen time. Kids grow and thrive best through personal interaction. Spending time with them, playing, and reading are great ways to build a foundation to impart your values.

Reinforce your values. Point out words and behavior in popular TV shows, websites, and music that are both positive and negative examples of what you do and don’t want your kids to model. What you say to your child is up to you, but have the discussion.

Embrace what they like. Rejecting your kids’ love of popular culture can close off avenues of communication. Embrace their world, but establish clear boundaries about what you find acceptable and appropriate.

Respect differences. Encourage kids this age to accept and respect people who are different by exposing them to media that includes people of diverse backgrounds.

There are plenty of positive influences in the media for our children to look up to. These influences should guide your kids to make healthy choices, learn to respect others, achieve goals, and avoid anti-social behavior. The most important thing for parents to do is to help your kids choose positive media role models who embody the values you want to pass down.

Sources:   www.CommonSenseMedia.org  www.TBParenting.com

BATTLING STEREOTYPES

Posted on: February 6th, 2012 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

As described by Merriam-Webster, a stereotype is a standardized mental picture that is held in common by members of a group. Although the word “stereotype” tends to have a negative connotation you may have noticed the active role the media has in reinforcing these stereotypes. Whether on T.V., Internet or video games, these generalizations paint many people unfairly and misinform kids about the world they live in.

Media are full of economic, gender, and ethnic stereotypes, from the roles of good guys and bad guys in video games to the animated films our youngest children enjoy, say Common Sense Media. White male heroes far outnumber both women and minorities in media portrayals. And, although women have come a long way in how popular culture reflects their status, statistics show that women are still most often relegated to roles of love interest, sex object, or selfless saint.

The reason this matters is because the images our kids see powerfully inform their sense of what is “normal.” When kids see the same class, racial, and sexual relations portrayed over and over, it reinforces class, race, and gender stereotypes. The characters kids see can become role models – and kids may want to imitate the behavior they see. They may also form judgments about others based on portrayals in video games, in stories, and on TV.

Here are some tips for you to keep in mind:

Count – when you find yourself watching television or playing games with your kids take a tally of the characters. How many are male/female? Are the characters of certain gender or race portrayed a certain way? Discuss what you see with you children and see if they have any questions.

Dollar – as a parent and consumer you have the power. Not only to control what your children are exposed to but what companies produce. If you don’t like something speak up. When you write or call media companies that produce materials that you feel have stereotypes, company representatives assume there are many other folks who feel the same way you do. This means that when you speak up, you’re speaking for both yourself and for many others.

Discuss – Ask your kids about their values. What do they think about gender, racial, and economic equality? Then ask what they think of action heroes, sports heroes, and video game and movie villains. What about popular culture’s portrayals reflects their values? What doesn’t?

Stereotypes are all around your family. Exposing them and making sure your kids understand that stereotypes are not fact but generalizations is most important. Keeping the lines of communication open so your children can ask you questions when they’re confused will help to ease the burden of being surrounded by confusing messages. It’s most important to know that you’re in control of what your children view. Screening before hand or view material with your children will let you know exactly what they’re being presented with.

Sources

www.commonsensemedia.org/advice-for-parents/battling-stereotypes-tips