Violence is all around us. Know what your child is watching on the internet and TV, and monitor the video games that come into your house.
Be aware not only of the quantity of violence your child might be consuming, but also the quality. Are they playing violent video games continuously? Does the program show graphic violence or violent sex? Too much violence viewing can desensitize teens and children and make it hard for them to recognize and respond to dangerous or inappropriate situations in real life.
Some parents worry that by intervening and giving direction to their teens when it comes to media influences, they will are being over involved, pushy, and will have an adverse effect. In reality, when parents do not intervene about other influences like media, teens internalize this as permission. They may react poorly at first to limit-setting, but a good rule of thumb is to remember that if it is a teen’s job to push limits and boundaries, it is the parents’ job to consistently enforce them.
Here are some things you can do to counteract violence in your child’s world:
- Explain consequences. Sometimes violent acts are depicted in isolation. There are no families around crying or legal repercussions to answer for. If you see your child watching a violent scene, engage him or her in a discussion of how that scene could play out in real life.
- Limit consumption. Keep an eye on the clock when kids are watching TV or playing video games. Too much of either is bad for their physical and mental health, so give them an hour then make them go outside.
- Teach conflict resolution. In real life, arguments usually don’t end with someone pulling out a gun. Teach them how to handle conflict with words, and work on their healthy conflict resolution skills. Becoming a peacemaker will make violence much less appealing. E-mail us to request information about our 8-step Healthy Confrontation Model. [email protected]
- Keep your kids busy. Sports, clubs and part-time jobs will widen your child’s world and reduce their interest in violent programming. Plus, they’ll have less time to consume it!
- Be more mindful of younger or more sensitive children. Kids of different ages should be allowed to consume different amounts of violence. Your high school teen should be allowed to see more than your 5-year-old, for whom “Road Runner” might be too much.
- Keep media out of kids’ bedrooms. This is an easy way to monitor what your child is viewing. This might be easier said than done with cellphones, but being clear about your expectations should carry over even when you are not around.
- Use technology to your advantage. Don’t be shy about triggering parental controls on certain television channels, tablets and smartphones if you’re concerned about exposing your child to violence. Though not foolproof, they do offer another line of defense.
- Model healthy media consumption. As always, one of the most important parts of parenting is modeling. Remember the adage that “more is caught than taught.” This means that there may be times when teens need to see you willing to stop a movie or song that is too violent or even turn off the news when it is too full of violent images for you or your children.
Violence is everywhere, and it is not possible to track everything your child consumes that might contain violence. Maintain a positive relationship with your child and keep open lines of communication. If they see something troubling, chances are they’ll come to you to discuss it. Remember that your job as a parent is to be “warm structure,” setting healthy limits with grace and truth.