Monday, November 16, 2009

5 Tips for Raising Media-Savvy Kids!

It's like talking to a brick wall sometimes. Or having a conversation with one of the squirrels in my yard. I can chase down, corner and talk the ears off of as many people as I want, but if the message about how much of an impact media has on kids isn't getting through to the right people, it's absolutely pointless.

I can explain how all media is educational . Whether it's good or bad, kids are picking up cues and learning from it.

I can talk about how dozens of recent studies have linked excessive media consumption to negative and downright scary behavior in adolescents.

I can even, show articles, statistics and informed blog posts that exemplify the growing worry that many people have about the impact of media on kids.

But if parents aren’t hearing me and making changes at home, then it's all just me hollering and waving around papers like some nut on uppers. So to give all of us smart Mamas (and Daddies) a hand in countering media influences, here are...

5 Tips for Raising Media-Savvy Kids


1. TAKE CONTROL OF MEDIA
Of course they enjoy their multiple screen-time, but the simple fact is, you pay the doggone bills so technically, it's all yours. There's nothing wrong with setting time limits on television, computer, video games, and phone usage. Setting boundaries on the media that kids are using is even easier since most television and Internet service providers have parental blocks that can be turned when needed.

2. EXPERIENCE WHAT THEY'RE DOING FOR YOURSELF
There's no better way to get a feel for what kids are watching, browsing and listening to than to try it out yourself. Get your Tweet, FB, IM, YouTube, "Degrassi," "106 & Park," and "Vampire Diaries" on ... and find out what all the kid-buzz is about! Then see what experts and other parents are saying about them at rating and review sites like Common Sense Media

3. GET MEDIA LITERATE
Several studies confirm that media literacy programs can “immunize” teens against harmful media effects, but first, we need to get "literate" ourselves! Organizations like the Center on Media and Child Health offer articles, tips, research and Q&A to help parents become more media savvy.

4. GIVE 'EM FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Encourage kids to take a deeper look at what they’re seeing in the media and question whether or not it's really OK. For example: Why is it so common to see images of half naked women in music videos while the men are are fully clothed? What does that say about the women? What does it say about the men?

The key to this is to engage in the media together. It's natural for us to want to turn the channel or flip the station when something inappropriate comes on, but many times, this type of content can be used to get kids thinking about the messages being conveyed.

5. EMPOWER THEM
Giving kids the tools to create their own media like counter-ads, blogs, music, web pages and videos is a great way to teach them how media is created. When they have an understanding of how messages are chosen for an ad, or why certain words and images are more powerful than others they can better analyze and resist the messages given in real media. A great resource for giving kids the experience of creating their own magazines, music and web pages is My Pop Studio.

So there you have it, Mamas. Go forth and empower!

The resources and tips in this post were complied from the presentation "Media Morality: How Media and Pop Culture Shape Adolescent Morality" by Carole Aksak, Critical Issues Coordinator, Girl Scouts of Nassau County, Garden City, NY, and Felicia Richardson-Battle, Author, Feel Good, Girl!, Glen Cove, NY.

7 comments:

Michele@Integrated Mother said...

Thx for these tips. My 8 yo daughter is a Web surfing guru already and that floors me. Recently, we've had to discuss her limits (and I've had to invoke some parental controls because there is a lot of bad stuff she accidentally bumps into).

Felicia (aka Mommy B) said...

Isn't it insane how they learn how to navigate the Web so quickly? I remember years ago when my daughter was doing a project on China for school and she needed an image of a young Asian girl.

I was in the kitchen but I heard her say, "Oh, I'll just type "asian girl" into Google." I nearly broke my neck getting to the computer before she could hit the send button. Such an innocent query, but even today, the first link to come up on that search term is a porn site. Crazy.

Marcia said...

This article is extremely informational with lots of good tips. My son loves using the internet to search and read about science experiments. So, I had to put some parental controls on the computer use to keep him safe. Now, I sit with him while he searches. So we use his search time as bonding time.

MelADramatic Mommy said...

Absolutely. Now that I have a laptop, I can sit on the couch with my son when he's watching TV. I've had to veto some shows after hearing how the writers choose to make the kids behave.

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