Kids and Streaming TV - Action Steps for Parents

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It seems like as technology moves forward, things would get easier when it comes to monitoring what our kids are doing right? Wrong. More tech means that it's a LOT harder to figure out what our kids are up to. Today's kids are often connected to the internet all day, and the bottom line is that even the most tech savvy parents are going to find it difficult to keep up with the level of mastery that kids get when they start playing with touch screens before they're potty trained.

As parents, we still need to be in control of what our kids are exposed to. No one, not even a huge and trusted corporate machine, is going to offer your kids the same perspective on life that you can or that you would choose for them. There is a lot of nefarious stuff out there, and you don't want to realize when it's too late that your child has been exposed to something that you really aren't comfortable with.

So how can you keep track? Here are some real world ways that you can make sure that your child isn't getting into things that you're not ok with.
  1. Be Interested - Don't let your child watch alone. This is a major mistake that parents make, because we are so busy and it is so easy to let them just roll with a cartoon in their room while we actually get the kitchen clean or have a few silent moments with a cup of coffee. The time invested in caring about what your child is watching, no matter if they're a toddler or a teen, will be well worth the trust that you build and the insight that you get.
  2. Share Your Interests - If you want your kids to like what you like and to be exposed to things that you find interesting, then make family time to watch something together. This could be anything from your favorite Star Trek movie to that incredible Britcom that you love to the last season of a hit show that you're obsessing over. Binge watch together.
  3. Monitor Unabashedly - Make it known that you keep track and that you can find the history of what they're watching. Netflix, Hulu and Amazon all offer histories of what's been watched - which is certainly a big one up over cable, where you literally have no way to find out what they've been up to. But keep in mind that those histories can be erased pretty easily, so also ensure that your child knows that they'll be held accountable if stuff gets erased.
  4. Use the Kids Feature - Lots of streaming services have a kids feature, though it might be lacking in a lot of what you think is appropriate for kids. But it can be easier to navigate for younger children and you'll also find that the content is all G and PG-rated
  5. Create Solid Boundaries - This is really true for everything in parenting. Screen time is addictive, we all know that (hello, where am I right now?). Sometimes you need to draw a line in the sand, for both your children and yourself. Create penalties for going over screen time limits or breaking the rules about what they're watching and follow through. Make sure that the penalties are reasonable and that you communicate the reasons for creating those boundaries.

Streaming is allowing kids to enjoy the programs that their parents loved as kids, and is also giving kids access to all kinds of educational programming that was just not available before. Overall it's a great thing for families - just be careful!