Media Use Resolutions for the New Year

Parents, this is the perfect time to rein in media use. It’s a brand, spanking, new year, and a fresh chance to establish healthy boundaries for your kids. Even if last year was a free-for-all media binge, 2012 can be the year your family gains control. Why not start now, over the next few days, thinking about what media balance means for your family? Here are some considerations.

1. I resolve to monitor regularly.

Regularly is the operative word here. Schedule two things: checkups of your children’s internet accounts and inspections of devices. Important maintenance includes: reminding your children to change their passwords; checking privacy settings are appropriate for your child’s age; looking over friend lists for unknowns (or known trouble-makers). Be sure to visit the sites your kids spend the most time on, looking for changes. Facebook, for example, is notorious for making “improvements” to privacy settings.

Doing random checks of photos can be a good idea as well. More and more kids are getting into trouble by taking and posting inappropriate photos. Don’t forget to inspect mobile phones and iPods!

The school holidays provide natural breaks in the year to carry out these media checkups. Go ahead now and enter them on your 2012 calendar so you won’t forget. Remember, passwords should be renewed at least as frequently as your toothbrush. (You may consider looking into the use of the app 1Password or similar as a way of managing passwords.)

2. I resolve to mentor consistently.

Instructing and correcting are only part of the deal. Being an inspiring role model is the heart of mentoring. Kids need adults who demonstrate responsible media use. Show your kids a balanced lifestyle, in which media is merely a tool. It’s okay to use the Internet for entertainment, as long as you also can find enjoyment in the company of others, stay on top of responsibilities, do regular exercise, and make time for spiritual growth.

3. I resolve to maintain fair, healthy media boundaries for my family.

Set time limits and stick to them. This is a parental duty, just like establishing a bedtime/curfew and directing dietary intake. Creating an Internet Use Contract can spell out the terms to avoid confusion. The beginning of the new year is the perfect time to put this in place. Remember, the older your kids are, the more appropriate it is to involve them in a discussion to negotiate the terms. See the eQuipped’s Cyber Parenting tab for some tips on reining in media use.

4. I resolve to update Internet security and filtering for my family.

Now is a good time to ask yourself a few basic questions: Am I taking adequate safety precautions at home? Are all devices covered in my wifi network? Remember, your home router connects the internet not only to computers and laptops but also to xBox, wii, iPods, iPads and more.

An abundance of filtering options are on offer, so you can start by googling home Internet security + wifi. Look into OpenDNS and see if it meets your family’s needs and your Internet provider’s settings and hardware.