By Caroline Knorr, Common Sense Media editor
Like most people, my New Year's resolutions include eating better and exercising more. But there's something else I want to get better at: managing my kid's media and technology. Over the past year, I've learned that the best way to stay involved in my kid's life is to keep an open mind about his online activities. My 2013 New Year's Resolutions focus on staying involved, listening, and having conversations.
1. Listen without judgment. To remain in the loop about what my son is doing, what games and videos he likes and even who he's playing against in multiplayer games, sometimes, I just need to hear him. I will try to listen without issuing snap judgments about what he's doing wrong.
2. Keep discovering and sharing. Believe it or not, I'm the one who introduced my son to the "Gangnam Style" video that was one of the biggest cultural phenomenons of 2012. I am often the one who alerts him to the latest Internet craze -- staying on top of this stuff is my job! He hasn't gotten to the point of assuming that if it comes from Mom, it can't be cool -- and I intend to ride that hip-hop horsey as long as possible. If I show him the good stuff on the Web, he'll be less likely to go looking for the not-so-good (I hope).
3. Call out the trolls. Trolls -- the negative commenters who skulk around the Web saying nasty things -- are NOT the voice of the Internet. Kids and teens love reading comments, but when some troll writes something for the sole purpose of insulting others, it really casts a shadow over the fun. I will talk to my kid about how sad and pathetic these people are -- and how their comments are just designed to inflame. He should pay no attention to them -- and certainly should never imitate them.
4. Talk about privacy. So far, my son has avoided Facebook, but many of his friends are on it. And I'm shocked at how many of them have public profiles, fully viewable by anyone on the Internet. I intend to make my kid so uncomfortable by the idea of anyone being able to view his profile that he will always use strict privacy settings.
5. Discuss responsible online behavior -- seriously. Now that MMO and IM are a part of my son's vocabulary, he needs to understand respectful online communication.
6. Talk to my kid's friends' parents about my media rules. Whether the kids play at my house or theirs, I bring up gaming time restrictions, which sites are off-limits and what movie ratings I'm comfortable with.
7. Help him regulate his own media usage. My son still needs my help in limiting his screen time. My contribution will be to help him help himself, by setting timers or working toward a goal (and then rewarding himself with some game time).
8. No texting and driving. OK, this one's for me. I know that the way I interact with media influences his behavior. My phone is now riding in the back seat.
What are your New Year's resolutions for managing your kids' media this year?
About Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media is dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in a world of media and technology. We exist because our kids are growing up in a culture that profoundly impacts their physical, social, and emotional well-being. We provide families with the advice and media reviews they need in order to make the best choices for their children. Through our education programs and policy efforts, Common Sense Media empowers parents, educators, and young people to become knowledgeable and responsible digital citizens. For more information, go to:www.commonsense.org.