Creating a Media Guideline for Your Family
A media guideline is a great tool for protecting your family from online dangers and excessive usage of devices.
By Caron C. Andrews
Cell phones, televisions, iPods, tablets, laptops, PCs—they’ve become a way of life and a way of communicating and relating to each other. They provide great sources of information and tools that make many formerly time-consuming tasks much more convenient. They’re also a gateway to a world of predators, pornography, and problems previously unseen. How can we sift the bad from the good and protect our kids on the internet?
What is a Media Guideline?
It’s a specific, personalized, and detailed guide and agreement within a family to determine what type of media, devices, timeframes, and protection tools will be used. It’s also a way for families to discuss specific issues such as appropriate versus inappropriate content, and broader issues such as family values and standards. It’s best if the family creates the guideline together so that each person has a voice in the process and so that there are opportunities for discussion.
Why Should My Family Create One?
Creating a media guideline is meant to protect each family member from online dangers and excessive usage. With so much information and so many images and videos at our fingertips, as well as so many ways to connect to strangers who might not be who they seem, it can be easy to be exposed to harmful material and people. A guideline helps to set limits and ensure positive media usage and gives less opportunity for harmful influences to enter your home.
What Should Be Included?
Each family must determine what their media guideline will contain based on their individual circumstances and needs. However, suggestions include listing all internet-enabled devices the family has collectively, time limits for usage, internet filters, location of computers and televisions in the home, rules for social media, what types of games are acceptable, sharing personal information, and rules for video streaming.
Accountability and Consequences of Breaking the Rules
The guideline has to address these issues in order to work. You have to discuss as a family how each of you will be accountable to stick to the guideline and what the consequences will be for breaking the rules. Set up as many built-in safety nets as you can through internet filters, locations where devices and computers will be used, use of computers outside your home, and what specific websites or social media accounts are not allowed.
Creating your family’s media guideline will ensure that each person feels protected and valued. It will set the tone for all of your media consumption and set clear messages on what you as a family will and will not allow into your home. It will help you establish and maintain family communication, and it will remind each of you that you are empowered to make good, healthy choices.
Check out Petra’s Power to See: A Media Literacy Adventure for a great story and more great talks on media, media illusions, social media, and more!
Also available: Messages About Me: A Journey to Healthy Body Image for a great story and great discussions about media and other messages that affect our body image.
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Educate families: a home-to-school program. Commonsensemedia.org. Retrieved from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/parent-media-education/family-media-agreements
Family media guidelines. Womenfordecency.org. Retrieved from http://womenfordecency.org/family-media-guide.html
Family media standard. Fightthenewdrug.org. Retrieved from http://www.fightthenewdrug.org/images/uploads/articles/pdf/Family-Media-Standard.pdf