Sometimes parents wonder whether their kids are ready for a favorite game, movie, TV show, or other excellent media thing.
It’s not always easy to decide when a kid is ready. You have to consider developmental level, temperament, and your family’s values. You also have to consider whether it’s possible to curate the media to be appropriate for your kid (the time-honored parental tool called “fast forward”). Whatever you do, try to prepare ahead of time, talk to your kids about the values presented in media (before, during, and after consuming it), and remember that all parents make mistakes—but, fortunately, kids are pretty resilient.
KNOW THE MEDIA
1. Know the ratings. There may be more information there than you think. Look at the ESRB ratings for games. They’re pretty detailed.
KNOW YOUR KIDS
3. Know your kids’ limits. Sometimes even the toughest kids are scared of things you’d never expect.
4. Decide how much it makes sense to gently nudge kids forward. Explain the narrative arc: It’s always scariest right before the hero beats her enemies.
5. Assume that your kids might run into problematic media at school or with friends, even if you haven’t introduced it to them at home.
6. Know what freaks you out—what you can talk about and what you can’t (because maybe you aren’t prepared quite yet). It’s okay to say, “Let’s talk about that tomorrow.”
7. Consume the media at home rather than out in public where you don’t have control, or where it would be embarrassing to leave in the middle.
8. Be prepared to answer questions, but don’t assume too much. Sometimes kids aren’t asking what you think they’re asking.
9. Curate the harmless parts and supervise, watch with, and play with your kids. This takes time and close attention. Here’s how one dad did it.
10. Be the person who provides context for media, whether your kids stumble across something outside of the home or within. Keep the lines of communication open both ways. The best part is that when you do your job well, kids become thoughtful consumers of media. They end up teaching you a thing or two. And that’s an incredibly joyful thing.
[download file=”http://www.pixelkin.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Get-Connected.pdf” title=”Get Connected: A Pixelkin Guide to Family Gaming”]