We write a lot about the importance of raising good digital citizens. The way we see it, the internet isn’t going away, and the older your kids get, the harder it is to start teaching them good behavior. So we start young, so that as kids get older, they’ll know how to make good choices, to establish boundaries, and to overall have the skills they need to thrive in a digital world.

We’re really pleased that our sponsor, FAM or Family and Media, has a brand new website offering some truly helpful resources to help out parents like us.

Hey, we’re all in this together right? And especially for those of us who weren’t digital natives ourselves, it’s especially helpful to know where to turn.

4 excellent, simple tips to help kids make good media choices with their screen time

Looking around the brand new FAMfriendly.com site, there are lots of excellent resources — we were even thrilled to find this list of links to recommended media and informational literacy sites for parents, including Common Sense Media, and our own Cool Mom Tech. (Yay!)

We also love that they offer some helpful videos, and one of our favorites is a short video offering 4 tips to get the most from kids’ media.

(Only partly because the tips echo so much of what we’ve been writing about for years now.)

4 excellent tips for parents to help our kids use screen time wisely

The tips are excerpted from a smart parental toolkit on NPR, which we had never even seen ourselves. We only discovered it by looking around the FAM website, and we’re so glad we did!

Here are the 4 basic tips, distilled. We think the narrator speaks for a lot of us when she says, “yes, kids are going to use technology, but there are things I can do to make the best of it.”

Yep.

1. Share screens with your kids. We already talk about this a lot on Cool Mom Tech — consuming media alongside your kids is important for so many reasons. Not only is it something we can do together as a family (and together is always good!) but it allows our kids to see the media choices we make in real time, so we can model good behavior for them.

In the video, she also offers a few smart, simple ideas for questions to ask your kids while you watch videos or online content together, for more educational, engaged viewing.

Why it's important to share screens with your kids, and not just hand them over | cool mom picks

2. Know that balancing screen use is about much more than just time itself. “Balance”is the key to basically all things parenting, whether we’re talking about dessert, homework, or screen time.  And in this case, media balance than just comparing online and offline activities — it’s important to know just what kids are doing with their screen time.

We like that they describe examining the balance between consumption, creation and connection. So smart.

In other words, all screen time is not created equal. Kids can do amazing things when they’re online — but they should also be running around with friends, creating pillow forts out of the couch cushions, and making homemade slime, too. Oh, and sleep, Sleep is good!

(Pro parenting tip: if you have older kids with their own devices, keep a charging station in a communal place, like a family room. Not their bedrooms. It reallllly helps.)

3. Be smart about content. Surely you already know this (our readers are smart!) but we like seeing it spelled out.

The essence of this tip is that you make sure you’re taking the time to know what your kids are looking at, what movies or videos they’re watching, what apps they’re downloading. We can’t just hand over a device and let kids have at it, any more than we’d just hand over the car keys to a 16-year-old, right?

Parental controls are amazing, and we’ve even shared some helpful controls that FAMfriendly offers in past posts. But there’s really no substitute for one-on-one engagement, and really knowing what they’re watching, and what ads they’re seeing in the process.

Look over their shoulders. It’s okay!

Helping kids become smart digital consumers: 4 tips for parents

4. See what’s positive about your kids’ screen time.When we see what our kids are doing right, it means we can help encourage more of that. We talk about this soooo much and we’re glad to see the idea echoed here.

Positive media use might include using channels that are safe and appropriate for kids, spending time on educational media that gets them excited to learn more, finding media that inspires creativity, and behaving wisely — and with kindness — towards others in texts and social media.

Embrace the Screen – 4 Tips To Get The Most From Kids’ Media from NPR from FAM on Vimeo

This FAM video is a good place to start, but you’ll find so many more free resources and information available on the brand new FAMfriendly.com site. The smarter more families are about how we raise our kids int he digital age, the safer and savvier they’ll all be as a whole.

Thanks to our sponsor FAM, a project of NCTA – The Internet and Television Association, and their new website, which gives families the tools we need to raise successful and safe kids in a digital world. 

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