8 Steps to Protect Your Children from Inappropriate Entertainment

Written by PTC | Published April 4, 2024

1. When it comes to kids and smart phones… Delay, Delay, Delay

There’s so much pressure to get kids on screens, tablets, phones and computers at younger and younger ages, but you are still the parent, and you get to decide if and when you allow your child to have a smart phone. If communication is a concern because of busy schedules and after school activities, make sure you know the adults in charge and that they know how to reach you in case of an emergency or change of plans.

2. Limit the number of screens and devices in the home and set boundaries around when and where they can be used

It’s important to have well-defined boundaries around the use of technology in the home and away from home. No devices, computers or TVs in bedrooms, only in common areas of the house, no phones at meal times. If your child brings friends over, the phones go into a basket by the front door until they leave. Keep a charging station in your own bedroom and make sure all phones are turned-in at night before bedtime.

3. Carefully review content and parental controls on any new streaming platform you are considering adding to your SmartTV or OTT device

Not all streaming platforms are equally suitable for children and families. Some have more adult content than others. Some have stronger parental controls than others. If you subscribe to any platform that offers TV-MA rated content, make sure you set up a separate account for the children in your home and that pin-codes or passwords are in place to restrict their access to adult content. The PTC has resources to help you with this.

4. Watch together whenever possible. And plan in advance what you’re going to watch

Planning is essential. Do your research. Find out what the show is about and what you can expect before you sit down to watch. Read reviews and search the Parents Television Council’s “Family Guide,” for information about the volume and degree of sexual content, violence, or profanity in the program.

5. Pay attention to the ratings. But don’t assume that because a show is rated PG, it’s okay for your family

Not sure what a TV-14 rating means? Ratings aren’t what they used to be, and parents have to be careful. If a program is rated TV-MA, trust that it’s rated that way for a reason, and look for an alternative.

That said, parents can often be caught off guard by adult content found on TV-PG rated shows. A recent PTC study found 10.8 instances of adult content per hour on PG-rated shows. Consider using a filtering service as a back-stop to make sure nothing slips past you.

6. Be an active viewer

Even if you’ve done your research, you may still be caught off-guard by inappropriate content within the program or in a commercial. Make sure you’ve got the remote in hand so you can skip over the content or quickly change the channel, and use that opportunity to talk to your child about what they saw and why you felt it was inappropriate.

7. Talk about what you saw

This is especially true if you have school-aged children. You can use lessons learned on the TV show to have meaningful discussions about issues that are relevant to their lives in a way they can relate to and understand.

8. But don’t turn it into a lecture

When kids feel a lecture coming on, they often shut down and tune-out. Especially if they feel like you are hypocritical about screen time. Instead use organic opportunities to share your values, to model appropriate screen use, to find ways to share time together that doesn’t involve screens. Look for opportunities to get outdoors, read aloud together or play a game as a family. These will do far more to foster connection and keep your kids away from harmful media content than all the rules and parental controls in the world.

Download as a PDF

Take Action. Stay Informed.