School Age Children: Ages 6 - 10 (page 2)
During this stage of development, children are learning to become a part of the larger world through school, activities, and friends. They become more independent, begin to understand cause and effect, and learn to reflect on their own actions. During this stage it is important to encourage development in these areas:
- Reading and Math Skills - Parents can help their children learn about letters and numbers by immersing them in an environment where print is important. For example, playing store using a calculator, receipts, and menus can expose them to the functions that letters and numbers play in the real world.
- Social Skills - School age children continue to develop social skills like cooperation, sharing, following instructions, and making friends. These skills can be developed at school, at home, on sports teams or scout groups.
- Physical Activity - It is important for children of this age group to master control of their bodies by using their major muscle groups to run and jump and play. It is also important that they learn to control their fine motor movements for tasks like writing.
- Problem solving skills - Parents can start to encourage reason and logic by asking children open-ended questions like "Why do you think that happened?" or "What do you think will happen if..."
So how does media fit into these needs of school age children?
Television and Movies
This time of life is when kids typically watch the most TV. But watching television does not offer kids the chance to build the kinds of skills mentioned above. CMCH recommends that parents work to find a balance between time for media and time for family, friends, school, and sleep.
A good way to think about media for kids this age is to think in terms of nutrition. Everyone needs food, and it is a parent's job to ensure that their kids have a healthy diet. This means thinking about the quality and the quantity of what their children eat. In the same way, parents can promote a healthy media diet.
Parents need to take the time to look at the quality and content of the television and movies their children watch. At this age, children are very vulnerable to suggestion. Seeing violence, alcohol, tobacco, and sexual behavior in the media can be harmful.
Parents also need to monitor how much time their children spend in front of the screen in order to avoid overweight and other concerns. Since children of this age group are now in school, they understand the concept of weekdays versus weekends. This is the ideal time to establish time limits for media.
Taking the nutrition example one step further, CMCH recommends that you treat physical activity, schoolwork, family time, and sleep as the "meat and potatoes" of your children's life. These activities need to take priority in their lives, while media use should be considered "dessert" -- a treat to be consumed in moderation.
CMCH also strongly recommends keeping media out of children’s bedrooms and limiting overall viewing to one to two hours a day, particularly to prevent overweight.
- See tips for using television safely
Research has shown that around age seven, children begin to understand the purpose of advertising. They realize that commercials are shown to get them to want to buy things.
This is the perfect time to introduce media literacy to your children. They will feel empowered by knowing the "tricks" behind advertising.
CMCH also recommends that a good way for parents to limit exposure to commercials is by using VCRs and DVRs.
- See tips for preventing the negative effects of advertising
Computers and the Internet
At this age, parents are likely to allow their children to use the computer without their supervision. While educational games and the research possibilities of the Internet are good benefits of using computers, parents and children need to practice Internet safety to avoid the many risks of using the web.
Some candy and junk-food companies have websites with computer games that advertise their products. This is called "advergaming," and parents should be aware that children may be attracted to these sites.
School age children often enjoy playing video games, especially with their friends. These games are easy to learn and players are rewarded for their skills, getting new codes and new levels as they go.
As we mentioned with television, parents need to monitor how much time their children spend playing video games. Since children of this age group are now in school, they understand the concept of weekdays versus weekends. This is the ideal time to establish time limits.
Additionally, parents need to monitor the kinds of games their kids are playing. Violent video games teach that violence is an acceptable way to solve problems.
- See tips for using video games safely
Children of this age will likely enjoy listening to popular music on the radio and to music that they own. They may start asking for an iPod, a walkman, or another personal music player. As with television, be aware of the content of the music they listen to by listening to the lyrics to make sure they are consistent with your family's ideals.
- See tips for enjoying music safely
© 2004-2008 Center on Media and Child Health, Children's Hospital Boston.
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