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Media Literacy for Parents of School-Age Children

In this article, you will learn about Media Literacy for Parents of School-Age Children. How can you help your child become Media Literate? Read and relax!

3:56 min read
  Teri Lapping  —  Grammar Tips
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Children are being brainwashed daily by the media. And so are we.
Your school-age children have grown up in a world influenced by media, and they intuitively understand the nuances in a way that older generations generally do not. 

Assume that your children will quickly learn how to be expert media consumers.
Assume that they already know more than you think they do.

Consider the possibility that they might even know more than you do, either consciously or unconsciously. 

The development of media literacy can be viewed as a mutual process. Enter this ongoing project together with your school-age children. See how a shared language will emerge, leading to better communication and understanding - and resulting in a deeper relationship. 

All media is not created equally.

Will our children be able to sift through the enormous amount of information that is accessible to them? 

Will they be aware that there is constant stimulation bombarding them?
Will they learn the skills necessary to choose media that is reliable, accurate, and gives relevant answers to the questions they are asking?  

Together with their families, communities, and schools, children can learn how to analyze media. 

In this article, we will look at how media literacy can be encouraged at home.

Defining “Media Literacy”

As parents, we can learn about media literacy for ourselves as well as for our children. 

Let’s first define our basic terms. The words “literacy" and "literaterefer to the ability to read and to write.  The word “mediarefers to texts, videos, social media, memes, and advertising as well as TV, newspapers, and magazines. “Media Literacy” is the identification, understanding, and critical evaluation of different kinds of media.

Media is not created randomly; it is created to accomplish certain goals. 

When you are “media literate,” you understand that a video, an advertisement, or a message has an underlying objective. As parents, we can help ourselves and our children become expert in deciphering media. 

The Goals of “Media Literacy

To understand that every piece of media has an author, and that every author has a goal.
To differentiate between accurate information, opinions, and fake news.
To think critically about certain information.
To form opinions based on verified sources of information.
To create media in a responsible and mindful way. 
To understand that media plays a role in our daily lives and in our culture.

Becoming “Media Literate” - A Process

1. First, consider these questions:

Do I understand what media literacy is? Am I media literate?

Do my children ask questions about the information that they encounter online?

Do my children know the difference between information that is evidence-based, information that is an opinion, and information that is not based on facts?

2. Together with your school-age children, choose a piece of media (i.e., a video, a blog, a social media message). 

Then, discuss these questions:

Do we know who wrote this? Is it an individual, a group, a business, a source that is anonymous? 

Who is this written for? Is it for teenagers, adults, students, a political group? 

What is the author’s goal? Why did the author write this piece?  Did the author want to inform us, to persuade us to buy something, to teach us how to do something, to entertain us? 

Is this information believable? Is the source trustworthy and accurate?  Is this an opinion? 

What information did the author choose to omit? Are there other points of view presented? Should there be more information included?

How do we each feel after reading this? Do we now want to buy something? Do we now have a new opinion about something? How would we each describe our feelings?

3. Create fun activities to learn "Media Literacy"

For example:

*Notice the advertising used on television, on food packages, on toy wrappings. Discuss this media according to the questions asked above.

*Invite other members of the family to become media literate: i.e., “Let’s discuss whether this video is accurate or not.”

*Learn together how to verify sources and check information. Pretend that you are detectives following clues. Do these clues lead you to actual people, to real companies, to first-hand sources?

Final Thoughts

As 21st century parents, we must become media literate so that we can take an active role in helping our children develop the necessary skills to become savvy, effective media consumers. 

Just as we can help them learn to read and to write, we can help our children become media literate.

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