Did you know 70% of kids using the internet for homework will find inappropriate content online? Every parent wants to keep their children safe from the dangers of the internet, but it can be difficult to know where to start. Should you tighten your parental controls? Sit them down for a tough conversation? You might even feel tempted to ban them from going online at all—which is a nearly impossible task. One of the best ways to protect your kids is to lead by example. By exploring family-friendly media together, you can show your kids how to stay safe online.
How to find family-friendly media
We know it can be difficult to find family-friendly media. After all, just because “everyone at school” is watching it doesn’t mean you’re okay with your kids watching it. Look at age ratings whenever available and read online reviews from other parents. Sites like Common Sense Media are great for helping parents determine if a movie is appropriate for their child by giving detailed reviews and suggested age ratings by both kids and parents.
When you’re researching, you’ll want to consider the more obvious inappropriate content, like graphic violence or sexually suggestive imagery. But less obvious content can also be harmful, such as characters depicting sassy attitudes and immature conflict. These can have an equally negative effect on young children who imitate what they see.
It’s important to customize your choices and closely observe your child during and after their media use, so you can note any negative patterns. All kids are different, so you’ll likely want to tailor the media to your individual child. For example, some kids might not like movies or shows that feature pet loss. In this case, you’ll want to avoid triggering content like this in future media.
You can protect your kids from other online dangers by learning three internet safety tips to stop cyberbullying.
Recommended TV shows for little kids (3-5):
There’s no shortage of kids’ media with colorful characters that will delight your little ones. But even at this young age, kids learn lasting lessons from the world around them, including their media intake. Look for age-appropriate media with slow-moving stories, low social drama, positive messages, and characters that model healthy relationships.
- Science and nature: Octonauts; The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That; Doc McStuffins
- Problem-solving: Puffin Rock; Handy Manny; Curious George; Peg + Cat
- Creative exploration: Little Einsteins; Creative Galaxy
- Social awareness: Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood; Sesame Street
Recommended TV shows for big kids (6-9):
As kids grow, they become more and more aware of themselves, their own learning, and their place in a complex world. At this age, it’s important to consume age-appropriate media that will help them understand how to navigate social interactions with others.
- Science and inquiry: Ask the Storybots; MythBusters; Odd Squad; SciGirls; Wild Kratts
- Creativity: Master Chef Jr.; World of Dance
- Silly fun: We Bare Bears; Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street
- Social awareness: 100 Things to Do Before High School; The Next Step
Recommended TV shows for tweens and middle-schoolers (10-13):
The pre-teen years bring an explosion in brainpower, self-awareness, and emotional growth. Kids at this age need positive but realistic models to emulate, as well as healthy doses of both goofiness and drama. Try to find kids’ media that satisfy a growing interest in action, romance, or horror at the right maturity level. As tweens turn into teens, they’ll want to watch more shows that cater to a particular genre or interest. You can help them find media they’ll love by searching for recommendations online, like “best teen anime shows” or “best teen shows about sports.”
- Social awareness: Who Do You Think You Are?; Speechless; I Am Jazz
- Silly fun: Adventure Time; Steven Universe; Doctor Who; Bravest Warriors
- True-to-life drama: Andi Mack; Boy Meets World; Being You
High speed internet for streaming family-friendly media
Before family movie night begins, make sure your internet speed can handle streaming all the family-friendly TV and movies your kids’ hearts desire. There’s nothing worse than buffering or lags during the best part of the movie! You need about 20 Mbps for optimal HD streaming. Fortunately, internet service like Quantum Fiber can give all the speed you need and then some. In fact, if each member of your family wants to stream simultaneously (and watch their own special streaming service), they can.
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