Media education: 4 common concerns from parents

This article is part of Media Education

Everyone raises their children differently, but many parents struggle with the same questions. Discover 4 topics that many parents and educators worry about, and what you need to know about these.

Is my child’s sleep affected by screens?

Children need between 9 and 13 hours of sleep every night in order to function well during the daytime. And if you manage to get them to bed in time as a parent, that’s no guarantee that they’ll fall asleep straight away.

Children who look at screens until right before bed might indeed lose out on some sleep because of it: our reptile brain considers a flashing screen as a form of danger, and wants to keep us away until the danger has abated. And blue light can also disturb our melatonin production, which inhibits us from falling asleep.

Does my child game too much?

Whether someone games too much is difficult to establish. Like with other hobbies, children can be completely engrossed in a particular game for some time, after which their attention shifts to other activities.

To know whether your child games too much, it’s best to look at the balance with other activities. Does your child still meet up with friends? Are they paying enough attention to their homework? How about other hobbies? If your child is only focused on gaming, it’s best to sit down for a good conversation and clear rules.

How can I stop my child from believing anything they read on the internet?

Children spend a lot of time on the internet and social media. It gives them access to lots of useful information, but also to fake news and conspiracy theories. Because the algorithms behind social media and search engines try to predict what will interest you, you often get to see similar information and videos. That can quickly lead to the impression: it’s all over the internet, so it must be right.

To avoid your child believing in misinformation, it’s best to help them learn to recognise fake news and conspiracy theories. It’s also a good idea to suggest trustworthy (news) sources to them, tailored to their age.

How to set rules with your child

Setting rules for your child can be easier said than done. There isn’t an inherently right or wrong way to go about it. A good tip is to formulate any agreements in a positive manner. Don’t talk about what isn’t allowed, but about what is. 

Also try to find a natural time to start a light conversation, rather than planning an hour-long sit-down with your child to talk about their media usage. You might segue to the topic from something that happened at school or in the news, for example. Also make sure to grow along with your child: you’ll be able to sense when they are old enough to let go of certain rules.

Published on 22 February 2024