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

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

A Wealth of Resources! Courtesy of Me & The Nassau County Girl Scouts!

It's that time of year again. Back-to-back holidays are sucking us dry, kids are wrapping up fall sports and moving on to holiday parties and concerts, family is travelling in and out of town. It's a friggin' circus around here!! So what better time to stress myself out even more by volunteering to once again be a presenter at the Long Island Counselors' Annual Conference. It was a great experience, but thank God it's over!

Needless to say, with everything going on, my poor blog is looking a little sparse. But thanks to the conference and my co-presenter, the amazing Carole Aksak of The Girl Scouts of Nassau County, I now have a wealth of smart-mama advice, tips and observations to share.

Carole is the director of GSNC Critical Issues Initiative . This unique program is constantly on the grind to counter the very same issues that get our panties in a bunch around here, like hyper-sexualized media that caters to kids. It was an incredible honor to present with her! She's a real pro when it comes to tackling these issues. And with the clout and resources of The Girl Scouts behind her, I'm just a happy-- albeit puny-- fish in a big sparkly pond.

Over the next week, I'll be sharing some of the issues we tackled in our presentation. I think you'll find some great stuff that can be applied in your own endeavors to raise smart and savvy girls in a culture that constantly tells them that their power lies in their looks and how well they can attract boys.

Feel free to comment and share your own tips and viewpoints as well. The more we share, the more powerful we become! And don't hesitate to apply our viewpoints to your own lesson plans or workshops. Just please do follow the universal, bloggy-code-of-conduct and give credit to Reign and also to the bylines following the posts.

On that note, stay tuned all this week for more.

Friday, November 6, 2009

A Lesson in Media Contradictions

So I'm sitting here flipping through channels because amazingly, even with over 800 channels to choose from there is still absolutely NOTHING to watch. Anyhoo, I come across "Hustle & Flow." It's a scene where D (the pimp) has just pimped Nola (a prostitute) so he can get an expensive microphone. She's pissed and hurt. He made her feel like an object. She wants a better life beyond being a convenient cash machine.

The viewer is made to understand. Feel Nola's pain. She's human. She has hopes, dreams and feelings. It's wrong for her to be made into an object for the pleasure of others. It's a powerful moment.

Then this commercial comes on...

.... sigh

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Case of Sara Kruzan

I learn something new everyday. Check it out.

Sara's attorney has asked the public to please await their instructions in November with regards to any public actions on behalf of Sara. You can keep track of their actions at The Council of Daughters, a national network of women working to empower girls.

Right now, it's just good to be aware.
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