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05 December 2003

Media literacy begins at home

90% of parents have rules about what their kids watch and 69% have rules about how much they watch. Such restrictions are not bad as a first step, but most parents end there. With a media literate child, such restrictions may be unnecessary...

We would not regard our children to be literate if they could read and not write. We should similarly not feel that our children have developed basic media literacy if they can consume but not produce media. Creating media content can range from the traditional, such as writing stories, to the high-tech, such as programming original computer games...

To intervene effectively, parents need to know what media their kids are consuming and why. Parents should spend time watching shows, playing games, listening to music, and scanning the Web with their children. As parents do so, they should model active engagement—asking the child to predict what is going to happen next, helping her to understand how one event is connected to previous and subsequent developments, and discussing what each event means for the characters...

Adults need to reinforce rather than dismiss children’s growing mastery over media content. Kids need to feel like there are some things they know better than their parents and their teachers and to have the experience of explaining that information to others. Learning about the imaginary worlds of popular culture, some educators now believe, can help children develop basic learning skills that they will later apply to classroom content. For example, recent anime series, like Pokemon and Yu-Gi-O, encourage kids to classify pocket monsters, their skill sets, their various developmental forms, and their alliances—a contrived world that bewilders many parents but that kids find captivating...

From the brilliantly thought-provoking Media Literacy Begins at Home in MIT's Technology Review (thanks Imran)

Posted at 07:39 PM in Children and teens, Media Literacy | Permalink


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Nobody taught our generation to decode and read media, but for us to do so was maybe easier... there was a qualatitive differential between reality and fiction.

Now as wars are reported as American football games, reality TV displaces drama, HBO's 'K Street' blurs news with political drama and games utilise newsfeeds as story triggers...perhaps media studies needs to be a crucial, critical component of education - as important as English and Maths?

Maybe kids are smarter than I think - but maybe not?

I grew up reading stories of alternative pharmaceutical and VR induced realities like 'We Can Remember It For You Wholesale' and 'Wild Palms'

But really, you don't need hallucogenics or 3D engines, just enough TV channels and a PVR to contruct your own reality ;)

Posted by: Imran Ali at 7 Dec 2003 21:49:51