Most parents truly want to instill in their children healthy media habits. We forbid texting at the table and taking calls during dinner time. We discourage constant Twittering, tetxting and Facebook status updating. We put limits on television time and monitor Internet use.
But while all that is certainly important when it comes setting boundaries for our kids’ media use, it’s not enough.
Dr. Jeffry Evans, a Family Practice specialist at the Hannibal Clinic in Missouri, says that in order to drive the point home, parents need to set a good example of appropriate media use. That means, of course, examining your own behavior and perhaps setting some boundaries for yourself.
Do you ever put your kid off – for just a second – while you read an email or answer a text? Do you answer your phone every time it rings? Do you spend all your free time surfing the Internet or watching television? If so, Dr. Evans says you are sending your kid a message. The wrong message.
Kids pay far more attention to what we do rather than what we say. So if the parent is always on Facebook or on the cell phone and kids have to pull at the pant legs for attention for things that they need, they learn that is the thing to do as well and they’ll start those behaviors you’ve been modeling for them.
My first instinct is to deny that I am guilty of any of those things. But the truth is that although my job involves spending a lot of time online, I spend more time there than I really need to. And I have shushed my kid a time or two when she’s interrupted me while I was reading something particularly interesting online. But I don’t text, so there’ that.
What about you? Can you see any room for improvement in your own relationship with media? Do you think you set a good example for your kids?
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