Defense Against the Dark Arts: Teaching Kids to be Critical Consumers of Media
One important aspect of media usage by kids is “media literacy” – teaching kids to be savvy about what they see and hear in the media, especially in advertisements in any medium (including print), in general, and TV commercials, in particular. Kids need to be able to decode the messages that are cleverly couched in advertising and other media. Here are some tips-
- Teach kids to think about who a commercial or advertisement is targeting, and if it is realistic. Talk to your kids about the strategies that are used in marketing products.
- Encourage kids to question what they see in media – could it logically exist or happen in real life, such as the appearance of a character, the way a product is being used in an advertisement or the actions of a character. Check out the video below on “flying penguins” as a perfect example.
- Teach kids to be able to separate fiction and fantasy from reality in media.
- Expose kids to the idea of “bias” and how it could affect what they read, see and hear in advertisements, in the news, and on the web. To drive the point home, make kids search on keywords on a controversial topic in Google (”ethics of stem cell research” or “evolution in the science curriculum”, for example) and click on different sites which represent the interests of stakeholders on different sides of the fence. Let kids see for themselves how the same “fact” can be stated to support even completely opposing viewpoints on a topic!An interesting exercise in driving home the idea of bias in the news would be to have your kids read a news report on the same incident in two warring countries. A bombing of a Palestianian village as reported in Isreali and Palestinian media, for example.
- Encourage kids to notice the difference that sound effects and music make to a narrative. Turn off the sound occasionally.
- Teach kids to read the fine print in promotional deals to underscore the message that there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.
- Watch these couple of videos below with your kids. They’ll learn a couple of very important messages!
Images can be manipulated…beauty can be photoshopped!
(Part of Dove’s ongoing campaign on “real beauty”)
Even penguins can fly…on film!
(Aired on BBC as an April Fool joke)