For you and your three-year-old daughter, reading her a story every day before she goes to sleep is part of the routine? Your children have been looking forward to the “Sendung mit der Maus” on Sunday mornings all week? Such rituals are often unspoken, fixed appointments that become naturalized over time. There are typical media rituals, but they can also look different in each family.
Using media together with family is a nice way to spend time together. The whole family looks forward to the weekend movie night together. Children really fever for it, also because the event is often associated with exceptions, such as delicious food on the sofa. You snuggle up and talk about the movie afterwards.
Regular skyping with the grandparents is also a highlight for everyone. Despite the often long distance, people feel close to each other.
Rituals don’t always have to be associated with a fixed date: Listening to music together as father and daughter can also be a regular media event that connects in a special way.
Media rituals can structure a family’s daily routine: When the Sandman plays on the tablet every evening or a book is read aloud, your child knows that it’s almost time for bed. Children and even still adolescents are thus offered a framework of the daily routine that gives them security. Media rituals can also serve as an incentive: If the teeth are brushed in the evening before the favorite series or the favorite audio book and the pajamas are put on, there is still time for two episodes!
Family time together is always valuable. There’s nothing wrong with creating shared moments with media like a TV, tablet or game console. Often the medium then plays only a supporting role anyway. It is important to take time for each other and experience things together. Media rituals also create free space for you as parents: You work off the news or relax after a hard day at work while your child watches Sandman or listens to Benjamin Blümchen.
However, make sure that tablets and such do not replace a babysitter or you as a parent. Joint family times in which media do not play a role are at least as important as times with media. Shared experiences like a trip to the pool or zoo are sure to do you as much good as your child!