Stay Tuned: Raising Media-Savvy Kids in the Age of the Channel-Surfing Couch Potato


Are you concerned about what your kids are watching on TV and online? Stay Tuned! will help your family decide what, when, and how much to watch. Jane Murphy and Karen Tucker, founders of KIDVIDZ and creators of award-winning special-interest videos for kids, offer welcome advice and specific guidelines for making the most of the learning and entertainment potential of video and the new media. Stay Tuned! goes beyond books that simply list shows or videos appropriate for children. Instead, Stay Tuned! shows how ...
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Are you concerned about what your kids are watching on TV and online? Stay Tuned! will help your family decide what, when, and how much to watch. Jane Murphy and Karen Tucker, founders of KIDVIDZ and creators of award-winning special-interest videos for kids, offer welcome advice and specific guidelines for making the most of the learning and entertainment potential of video and the new media. Stay Tuned! goes beyond books that simply list shows or videos appropriate for children. Instead, Stay Tuned! shows how you can carefully select and use TV programs, videos, and the new media to enhance your child's intellectual and emotional growth ... and liberate you from TV guilt.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Longer on cuteness than content, this folksy handbook from the owners of Kidvidz, a video production company, offers an easy solution to parents worried about TV's deleterious influence on their kids: go video instead. The authors reason that video tapesbought, rented or made from selected TV fareeliminate channel surfing and give parents more control over what is viewed. With that case made in Chapter 1, various approaches for making TV- and video-viewing into a life-affirming experience for children ages 2-14 follow. Discussed are strategies for limiting viewing time and ways to respond to crises like an unanticipated scene involving strong language. Much of the parenting information presented is available in less specifically targeted parenting books and is often a matter of common sense, e.g., fast-forward through rough spots. Sample dialogues between parents and kids as they negotiate various issues ring false, while family activities suggested at the end of each chapter are either too elaborate (produce an evening news segment) or uncompelling (design a video cover). Carrying the greatest impact are the snappy, informative "As a Matter of Fact" boxes scattered throughout, which offer stunning statisticse.g.,kids average 40 minutes a week of meaningful parent-child conversation and 1680 minutes per week in front of the set. (Sept.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385476904
  • Publisher: Broadway Books
  • Publication date: 8/1/1996
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 8.06 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Read an Excerpt

The New Media

Even as we adjust to the impact of TV and video, we're dynamically fast-forwarding to new videolike formats and information and entertainment delivery systems, mostly by way of the computer. All of a sudden, parents have more than the TV and VCR to monitor. The menu of choice includes CD-ROM, pay-per-view cable, satellite dishes, and perhaps the most promising, online services such as America Online, Prodigy, and CompuServe, with access to the Internet and World Wide Web. The infinite variety of programming delivered through this medley of media brings up a whole new set of what, when, and how much decisions.

This chapter provides an overview of the new media options--the hardware and the programming, the benefits of investing time and money in introducing them into your home, the concerns you need to address in deciding what's appropriate, and the when and how much of it all.

How to plan the most meaningful itinerary for our kids as they travel through the electronic universe? Today's children have been born into the computer culture. The rest of us, according to Sherry Turkle, author of Life on the Screen, are no more than naturalized citizens. Many of us don't even know what "cyberspace" is, but some of our kids are already at home in the wired world of online communication. Kids' facility with computers has given them control, and some parents may feel left behind on the high-tech highway. Even the most computer-savvy among us are stymied by the same issues that have surfaced regarding video and TV viewing. And new issues concerning privacy and etiquette have accompanied the new media.

The following pages consider theparental prerogatives of limit setting discussed earlier in relation to the new media, and in light of a new set of issues: parents' inability (due to lack of knowledge or time) to sample what's available and to accommodate these added options into the family's busy life. Sampling a CD-ROM or previewing a video may give you a handle on what your child's experience will be like. Online, however, is always new, depending where your child may chose to go, so you can never know all the available experiences without being there at every moment even with "parental controls" in place.

If you're intimidated by new media jargon, hardware, software, and protocols, read on and chill out. You'll find that managing your kids' computer experiences, like managing their video viewing, boils down to the same old parenting story.

Surveying the New Media Landscape

Neighbor 1: Seems like only a few years ago it was C3PO and R2 D2, X-Men, and G.l. Joe. Now it's 3DO, CDROM, and AOL.COM.

Neighbor 2: And to think it all started with ABC.

Your kids are growing up in a world of computers and new technology. They've probably experienced computers and online communications in school, at a museum, at the local Boys and Girls Clubs, or at their friends' houses, so you'll want to get up to speed. There are even new media arcades and "cybercafes" (like Cybersmith in Cambridge, Massachusetts) with banks of computer terminals sporting menus of software and online options you can choose from, with charges by the minute. Initially technically forbidding, scarce, and expensive, computers are now so user-friendly and affordable that millions of households are learning to learn to talk the talk and walk the walk.

Read magazine articles, peruse the books, and visit museums, libraries, and cybercaf√ös or computer stores to familiarize yourself with the multimedia options now available, even if your present pocketbook can't afford them.

"I am 750 percent behind my children being computer literate. I have no doubt that when our daughter who's still at home is an adult, the world won't function on a paper level, so she might as well learn how to get around computers now. Besides, there are terrific games and educational CD-ROMs like Oregon Trail which add a creative twist to the learning experience."

--Bob Villa TV personalfty/host and correspondent on NBC's Today Show, Father of three, ages 10, 16, and 19

Benefits: The Feel-Good-About-It Part

The biggest incentive to get us moving from scratch pad to mouse pad is to appreciate that the computer represents a wonderful opportunity for education through technology because it can approximate most closely the way we learn--interactively. In her book Mind & Media: The Effects of Television, Video Games, and Computers, Patricia Marks Greenfield recognized back in 1984 that the computer is favored over TV by children because it's programmable, interactive, and dynamic.

The introduction of each new medium promises a host of unique capabilities to deliver more exciting experiences than the media that came before. Radio made the spoken word come alive in broadcast dramas and instantaneous news reporting. When television appeared, it took over as the medium for drama and entertainment, and radio specialized in what it does best--music and news. Lloyd Morrisett, president of the Markle Foundation, which funds the use of communications and information technology for social benefit, notes multimedia's capacity to integrate formats and present an array of information in one place:

Before multimedia, the Shakespearean play was on television and the book was in the library; the soap opera on television and the synopsis of past episodes available over the telephone; the symphony was on the stereo, the score printed, and notations were in a book. In the world of multimedia all of these and more will be available on the electronic screen to be called up when the producer or user deems it necessary.

As the platform for multimedia, the computer integrates and displays sound, print, video, photographs, and graphics in programs that give the user the opportunity to branch off in a variety of directions, taking multiple pathways to related information and often to a variety of solutions to the same question.

One of the reasons computers and interactive programming really can deliver on their promise to entertain and educate is that in many ways they mimic the ways our brains work. Their architecture, combined with well-designed programs, can anticipate how we receive and process information, how we respond, what gives us pleasure, and how we learn. Computer software and online communication can provide:

>rapid access to information

>ease of use

>enhanced self-esteem through creative self-directed learning

>accommodation to different styles of learning

>challenge to different cognitive skills, in addition to reading and writing

>preparation for a world that fully integrates the computer in our personal and professional lives

Kids prefer to learn, rather than being "taught." In other words, they want to experience as much as they can first-hand and be in control of their own learning. Today's computers offer kids access to thousands of programs on floppy disks, CD-ROMs, or through online options. Kids can usually operate the hardware with ease and are very comfortable with the manipulative aspects of navigating from option to option by using the keyboard and mouse.

The most successful computer programs for kids put them in the driver's seat, with rules of the road and a map to guide them, and take advantage of the ways kids learn best--with hands-on, age-appropriate challenges and content. The interactive format allows them to find and even create information rather than just consume it. Used in the right doses, even computer games can give kids mastery as they advance to higher levels, enhancing their self-esteem along the way. They offer powerful motivation with long-term appeal because the challenges are built in, and the players gain a feeling of control.
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Table of Contents

Who Are We and Why Did We Write This Book?
Ch. 1 It's More Than Eye Candy: Plug into Your Kid's Viewing and Discover Video's Value 1
Ch. 2 Who's Got the Remote? Video and Parenting 19
Ch. 3 Is TV Only for Dessert? Video as Part of Daily Life 53
Ch. 4 No Guns, No Sex, No Swearing, and They Want to Watch It Again? How to Select What to Watch 87
Ch. 5 Homework for Parents: Research Can Lead to Buried Treasure 115
Ch. 6 Rewind and Play Again: A Fresh Look at What Kids Do While the TV's On and How What's On Influences Them 137
Ch. 7 Just the Ticket to Talk: How Videos Can Trigger Meaningful Discussion 161
Ch. 8 Telefuture Is Here: The New Media 187
Ch. 9 We're the People: Advocate for Meaningful Kids' Media 227
Resources 253
Bibliography 263
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