Setting Limits on Media Use Continued
4. Parents may decide to limit media use by linking media consumption to children's behavior, in effect using media as a reward for good behavior. In this sort of scheme, children earn points towards media use by acting in ways that parents want to encourage. For example, youth should be encouraged or mandated to complete homework and chores before watching television or playing video games. They should also be encouraged to exercise. Parents might set a rule that requires children to play outside one hour for every hour of video games or computer play time.
We recommend that media use rules be designed to preserve shared family time. For example, a rule may be made that no family member may use cell phones, MP3 players, television or hand-held video games during nightly family dinner time, during worship services, or during family game night.
5. Youth also need to be discouraged from sharing personal information online without parental permission, and helped to understand what information is safe to post online and what information should remain private. Children should understand that it is never appropriate to post their real full names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, birthdays, or other identifying information online.
By setting these rules and by enforcing discipline with regard to media choices, adults need to express to children that media consumption is a privilege and not a right. If children make wrong choices while using media and break the rules, they may lose their ability to watch television, to listen to their MP3 player, to use their cell phone, or to play video games.
No matter how well parents create and enforce media rules in their own home, it is important to keep in mind that these rules will probably not be enforced in other homes where children may spend time, such as at friends' houses, at Grandma's home, or another caregiver's home. Concerned parents will want to discuss family media rules with adults in those other homes so that there is the possibility that they will be enforced in those other homes. Often, adults in other homes share beliefs and rules about media use and will enforce them. However, if parents determine that adults in other homes cannot or will not monitor or enforce children's media use rules, they may decide to not allow children to visit those homes again without supervision.