Watching What They Watch
8. Repeat the video. Repetition is part of learning, both with reading books and "reading" media. The more a child views a video, the more she understands the story and anticipates a character's actions. If after multiple viewings, she's still not tracking, that's an indication the video might be too frenetic or age inappropriate.
9. Equip your child: You can't control every situation, so help your child self-regulate when she's at a friend's house. Use language she can understand. "If the video makes you feel yucky, call mom and I'll pick you up." Or, "If the video feels too fast, tell the babysitter." Equip her with decision-making power. Even if the process takes years, it will pay dividends in the long run.
In Christian culture, we talk a lot about the negative impact of electronic media and not a lot about the positive impact. But when we raise media-wise kids, we're giving them lifelong tools. This sense of media savvy, along with an appreciation of visual storytelling and a cultivated imagination, will help build sound judgment for them in school and beyond.
Most of our kids over the course of their lives will consume plenty of visual media, much of it when we're not around. So while they're still at home—sitting at the picnic table rolling their eyes at us—all we can do is keep the conversation going and hope that they'll grow up to engage media with maturity and discernment.
Andrea Palpant Dilley's recent memoir, Faith and Other Flat Tires: Searching for God on the Rough Road of Doubt (Zondervan), tells the story of her departure from church and her eventual return. She lives with her husband and daughter in Austin, Texas. For more information, visit www.andreapalpantdilley.com.
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