For parents, this time of year can feel like walking through a minefield, with ads, decorations and music all aimed at getting kids excited about the holidays. Every year children eagerly ask Santa for the “hottest,” “must-have” toys – and then turn that “pester power” on their parents. Of course, few parents want to be Grinches – we all want to make our children happy – but there can be a middle ground between giving in to pester power and canceling the holidays altogether. Here are some tips on how to control holiday consumerism:
The Internet provides marketers with many opportunities to elicit personal information from children. Kids love playing on the Web, and commercial sites for children are continually ranked as top online destinations.
It’s important to pay close attention to what children see in the news because studies have shown that kids are more afraid of violence in news coverage than in any other media content. By creating a proper perspective and context for news and current events programs, we can help kids develop the critical thinking skills they need to understand news stories and the news industry.
The intense media coverage that accompanies traumatic events, such as war, acts of terrorism and natural disasters, can be very disturbing for children and teens. Certain young people are particularly vulnerable and some can be seriously distressed simply by watching TV replays of such events.
Parents, educators, health practitioners and others who work with kids can help to lessen anxieties arising from the coverage of catastrophic events.
Many preschoolers are already active computer users. According to a 2012 Ofcom report, one-third of children ages 3-4 access the Internet using a computer, while a 2011 survey by Common Sense Media found that roughly the same number have used mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. While children at this age have a limited attention span for online activities, Internet images and sounds can stimulate their imaginations and add to their experiences.
Making Your Voice Heard: A Media Toolkit for Youth is designed to help young people understand how the news industry works, why youth stereotyping happens and how they can access media to get positive youth voices and stories heard.
MediaSmarts asked Canadian teens attending a Digital Youth Summit what they do to make the online world better for everyone. Here’s what they said:
Welcome to the interactive game for children – Privacy Playground: The First Adventure of the Three CyberPigs. The purpose of this game is to teach eight-to-ten-year-old children how to surf safely on the Net, and particularly how to spot and navigate around Internet marketing ploys.
On the Loose: A Guide to Online Life for Post-Secondary Students supports young adults who are experiencing both new freedoms and challenges in their post- secondary life.
Along with images of natural disasters and violence, one all-too-common news item that can be distressing to kids is reports of hate crimes. Seeing or hearing about hate-motivated assaults and vandalism of homes, cemeteries and places of worship in media, can lead to fear and anxiety in young people, especially if they belong to a vulnerable group. In many cases, the effect will be worse because news isn’t the only place Canadian kids see hate and racism: almost half see hateful content online at least once a month, and one in six sees it every day.