Parental Involvement is Key to Raising Media-Savvy Kids

By Vicky Ho
09 Mar, 2016

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 9, 2016, with the headline 'Parental Involvement Key to Raising Media-Savvy Kids'.

 

It is of concern that children’s online behaviour has made their parents vulnerable to hacking and put themselves at risk to online scams, cyber bullying, online predators and intrusion of privacy, and that most parents in Singapore do not frequently act to protect their children’s cyber safety. (“Children a ‘weak link in household cyber security’”; Mar 3)

With these rising media dangers, there is a need for parents to teach their children how to be discerning and safe in their media consumption. As a first step, it is important for parents to know the effects of the media on their children.

Some popular television shows have a fair amount of sexual content. Two studies conducted by behavioural scientist Rebecca Collins show that the more sexual content teenagers watch on television, the more likely and sooner they are to initiate sexual intercourse or progress to more advanced sexual activities. Findings also reveal that sexual content on television, whether explicit or suggested, influences teenage sexual activity. (“Does Watching Sex on Television Influence Teens’ Sexual Activity?”)

When it comes to media depicting violence, a 3-year study of primary and secondary school students in Singapore found that those who played more violent video games tend to be more likely to commit acts of physical aggression. This applies regardless of the students’ gender, history of aggression and whether or not their parents limit how long they play video games. (“Violent video games linked to aggressive thoughts, behaviour”; Mar 29, 2014)

However, media can also have positive effects. Shows depicting sexual risks and consequences can teach accurate information about sexual risks and encourage teenagers to talk with their parents about these messages. (“Does Watching Sex on Television Influence Teens’ Sexual Activity?”) In the same way, video games that portray kind acts can lead to helpful behaviour in real life. (“Violent video games linked to aggressive thoughts, behaviour”)

In determining if media has a positive or negative effect on children and the family, parents have an especially important role. They need to help their children practice discernment so that they will be safe and savvy in their media consumption. We believe in equipping parents, through workshops and talks, to help their children make good decisions for their physical and psychological safety in today’s media-hyped world.

Are your children often with their noses buried in a screen instead of having conversations with people around them? At SCREENed, find out how you and your tween can have healthier conversations about screen time, leading them to make wiser decisions about their devices too! Learn more at www.family.org.sg/SCREENed today.

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