From movies and TV shows to apps and podcasts, the digital world is rapidly changing and becoming increasingly accessible. As a mother and now a grandmother, Janine Lowy has witnessed firsthand the challenges that can arise when it comes to attempting to monitor children’s access to technology.
In November 2023, Janine Lowy shared tips for discussing traumatic current events with children. This month, Lowy is expanding on that theme to share a strategy for assessing and selecting media that is both appropriate and worthwhile for developing young minds to consume.
“The full effects of technology on children’s brains are not yet fully understood,” said Janine Lowy. “Everyone in charge of young people—parents, grandparents, teachers, guardians—is facing uncharted territory in ensuring the kids we love are presented with media that best serve them.”
Below, Lowy shares some of the strategies and tools she’s drawn from over her many decades as a caretaker.
Laying the Foundation
It’s crucial to keep the channels of communication open with your children, says Lowy. “Whether it’s to ask for your recommendation on a movie or to share something they’ve seen that’s upsetting, children should feel comfortable approaching you.”
You should also engage with what your children are passionate about. If they’re interested in fantasy cartoons, don’t force them to enjoy classic musicals. Instead, provide age-appropriate recommendations that align with their interests. This is an excellent way to bond and ensures you’ll be in the loop with what they’re watching.
Selecting Appropriate Media
Many of us have different criteria for what we want our children to be exposed to. Some may feel strongly about obscene language, while others might want to avoid any violence. These criteria will also shift as children grow. “I often use Common Sense Media as a starting point in selecting anything from TV shows to games,” said Janine Lowy. The tool offers thousands of comprehensive, age-based ratings and reviews. It allows adults to search by media type, age, and streaming platform, then narrow down the search with optional filters, including content limits and genre. “There are even filters for character strengths—like courage, empathy, or teamwork—and filters for diverse representation or positive role models,” said Lowy.
Lowy also recommends keeping tabs on current events and suggesting media outlets that align accordingly. “Whether it’s Indigenous People’s Day or there is a newsworthy current event, you can sit down together to watch something that ties into the issue,” said Lowy. “Media can be a great way to expand children’s insight and understanding.”
Addressing an Issue
Another reason it’s so essential that children trust you is so that they feel safe coming to you in the event they are exposed to something upsetting. Kids are naturally curious; unfortunately, it’s easy for them to stumble onto the wrong website or for a friend to share an inappropriate movie.
If you suspect something like this has occurred, stay calm. Children are very perceptive and will sense panic, Lowy said, which could cause them to shut down. Gently ask what they’ve seen and how it made them feel, and as you listen to what they say, control your own anxiety. Instead, offer gentle support and extra love.
Finally, be patient—with yourself and with your children. The technological landscape constantly changes, and we’re all doing our best to navigate the associated challenges.
Published By: Aize Perez