Sound Advice on Managing the Media From Parents' Choice

Tame the media monster at your house with these simple tips.

If managing your child's screen time is a concern, follow these tips to get your child's media life under control

1. The right time, the right place.

Establish and follow ground rules about when and where small screen media -

TV, DVDs, software, Internet and video games - can be used. Schoolwork first, small screen media second. Make children's bedrooms off limits to small screen media. 

2. Make play dates with children, not channels.

TV should not serve as a child's constant companion. Limit the daily dose of small screen time. Unless a child is using the computer to research homework assignments, small screen media use should be limited to one to two hours per day.

3. Broadcast the right signals.

Kids love to imitate. If your children see you spending hours as a couch potato or tethered to a laptop or PDA, the message will be "What's good for the goose, is good for the gander." Limiting your leisure media time will send the right signals to your children - that rules and limits apply to the whole family.

4. Media is not a condiment.

Do not use television to season a meal. Turn it off while eating.

5. Ratings exist for a reason.

Just as food labeling made us more nutrition-conscious consumers, ratings help identify age-appropriate "nutritional" media content. Learning what the TV, movie and video game ratings mean, will make you a better 'dietician' for your children's media.

6. Make media matter.

Whether watching a show about friendship or fish, take your children to the library to find a book that further explores the program's themes or subjects.

7. Join in the fun.

If your children ask to play a video game, play age-appropriate video games with them. If they are old enough to use the computer, visit Internet sites together. Show them where they're allowed to go, not just where they're not.

See more on Parents' Choice.