Top 5 parenting tips for media literacy in preschoolers

There are five essentials that will help preschoolers become media literate, says Modern Parenthood guest blogger Rebecca Hains, a children's media culture expert at Salem State University, in Salem, Mass.

3. Watch with your child and speak up

Courtesy of Disney
Kids can strengthen critical thinking skills by processing what they watch. Here, "Little Einsteins," a Disney Channel show, engages viewers by solving puzzles and introducing classical music and fine art.

Only by talking about what’s on screen will your child develop the critical thinking skills central to media literacy. So, point out things you like and don’t like. Convey your values by using simple declarative statements to share your reactions to what’s on screen. For example:

“I like this part because [reason].”

“I don’t think he should be lying about that.”

“I don’t agree with her decision.”

“No one is listening to her! They should listen to their friend.”

“He’s being greedy! We shouldn’t be greedy like that.”

And ask questions to solicit your child’s opinion. Yes or no questions are OK, but open-ended questions are even better:

“Do you think it’s a good idea for her to do that?”

“Why do you think he is keeping that secret?”

“Uh-oh, what did her mommy say to her earlier? Can you remember what she’s supposed to be doing?”

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

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