With so many choices available and marketed to children, it is important to choose media that offers children the most benefit. But how do you choose between so many options? How do you know what offers the most benefits?
Opt for commercial free media as much as possible, or at least media that does not include junk food commercials.
“Most of the time, the foods in ads that are aimed at kids are high in sugar, salt, or fats. Children eat more when they are watching TV, especially if they see ads for food” -U.S. National Library of Medicine.
“Studies have shown that excessive media use can lead to attention problems, school difficulties, sleep and eating disorders, and obesity” -AAP.
Ask yourself “how will this program benefit my child?”
MediaSmarts offers these questions to guide your choice
Does it encourage imagination, creativity, and asking questions?
How does it represent gender and diversity?
How commercialized is the program?
Are the themes and topics showing positive information?
What emotional effect will it have on children?
“Although the amount of time kids spend on screens has been a big news focus, what's even more important is the quality of kids' media and how it fits into their -- and your family's -- lifestyle” -Common Sense Media.
“Perhaps the most obvious advantage of educational videos and other media is the fact that they engage kids and get them excited about learning” -Children's Advocate.
There are many review services that look at and rate educational media for parents. Why not let them narrow down the endless list for you, to make it easier to find what is best for your child. You can often search by age group or category to narrow the options.
commonsensemedia.org – This is the most comprehensive list of ratings for media created for children. It covers the widest range of media, from apps to movies.
geekswithjuniors.com – This site offers full length reviews of educational apps, going much more in depth into the value than most sites.
Some other great sites for children's app reviews:
Lists of educational shows
How do you choose what to offer your child for his or her screen time?
Dinah Carlin, independent app developer, illustrator, and author of children's media