7 Media-Savvy Skills for 2013
By Caroline Knorr, commonsensemedia.org
Common Sense Media is dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in a world of media and technology. We exist because our kids are growing up in a culture that profoundly impacts their physical, social, and emotional well-being. We provide families with the advice and media reviews they need in order to make the best choices for their children. Through our education programs and policy efforts, Common Sense Media empowers parents, educators, and young people to become knowledgeable and responsible digital citizens. For more information, go to: www.commonsense.org.
Instagram. Snapchat. Facebook. Everyday there’s some new thing for Savvy Aunties to figure out. Getting up to speed—plus giving the kids guidance and limits—is a daily challenge.
You don’t have to become an expert to help your nieces and nephews make good decisions. Just get involved in their media lives. By engaging with them, you can help them use these tools responsibly, respectfully, and safely. Here are some ways to be a media-savvy Auntie this year:
1. Check out their social sites.
From video games to apps—even music—nearly everything has a social component these days. Your nieces and nephews may enjoy posting status updates, uploading photos, IMing, commenting, gaming, or any number of online sharing activities with friends. Ask them to show you where they visit, what they do there, who they talk to, what they upload. Make sure they know the rules for safe, responsible, respectful online communication.
2. Take their games seriously.
Give their favorite game a whirl—or just ask them to recount their gaming experiences. (In fact, once they start, you may not be able to get them to stop!) Use the opportunity to ask questions about the game, like choices they made, puzzles they solved, or strategies they tried. You may be surprised at how much thought goes into their game play. (Check out our favorite video games.)
3. Share music.
With MP3 players and headphones, music is often a solitary experience. But it doesn’t have to be. Download some of your favorite oldies but goodies for your kids. Then ask them to play something for you that you’ve never heard. Have a conversation about the music.
4. Use YouTube’s advanced features.
Every kid loves YouTube, but we all know that there are plenty of videos that aren’t age-appropriate. Telling your nieces and nephews it’s best to stay off probably won’t do any good, so learn how to manage it. Show their parents how to take advantage of YouTube’s built-in content filter, Safety Mode, which blocks mature content. Then help them set up Channel Subscriptions, Playlists, and Watch Later feeds which offers greater control over what the kids watch. You might consider doing the same for your YouTube account if you allow your nieces and nephews to sign on when they visit.
5. Take control of your TV.
There are lots of ways to exert more control over what the kids watch when they come over. You can use a digital voice recorder, on-demand programming, and website like Hulu to watch what you want when you want it. This allows you to be choosier about what the kids see. You can preview the shows, fast forward through the ads, use the mute button, and avoid the stuff you don’t want the kids to watch.
6. Research their apps.
It’s kind of amazing what apps can do. But you have to set some rules around downloading—especially when they use your own devices—or you may wind up with some age-inappropriate apps. Always read through the app description, and check our reviews before installing. Play with your nieces and nephews a few times, so you know what the app is capable of—some offer in-game purchasing, connect with other people, or use your location.
7. Establish a digital code of conduct.
If you gift your nieces and nephews with digital devices, set rules around responsible, respectful usage. Talk to their parents about checking in on where the kids are going online—look at browser histories, set appropriate age filters, and check out the parental controls. Teach or reinforce the basics of safe searching. Don’t let them figure it all out by themselves.
Published: January 1, 2013