CMCH Suggestions: Use Media With Your Children

Since 1996, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has officially recommended that parents “co-view” television or movies. This means that parents are encouraged to watch television and movies along with their children.  Studies about co-viewing have shown this practice has a number of benefits:

Increased Learning: Young children learn better from educational media when watching it with their parents. Parents can point out things on screen and label objects. With a pre-recorded program, parents might pause the VCR or DVD and ask children “What do you think will happen next?” Parents can also elaborate on lessons from TV programs or videos by pointing out similar objects, people, and situations in the child’s own environment.

Reduced Fear: Talking about scary scenes together can reduce children's fear. Younger children tend to be scared of fantasty elements like ghosts, witches and monsters, while older children tend to be most fearful of things that could happen in real life, such as terrorism or natural disasters.

Reduced Aggression: Co-viewing can reduce aggression if parents make comments about the violence they see that is unacceptable. When parents see violence that is rewarded, they should point it out to their children. If a person is hurt but the consequences are not shown, it is helpful to say things like, “Wow, that person must have been really hurt. How do you think you would feel if that happened to you?”

Increased Discussion: Parents of older children can use the content they see, especially violence or sexual behavior, as a starting point for discussion about these topics.

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