Get Started

Best Parental Control Solution for Your Family Devices

Start Free Trial

The Importance of Media Literacy: A Parent’s Guide

SUREN on December 20, 2018

We tend to put ‘the media’ under a single umbrella. In reality, however, not all media is the news media! The media encompasses books, films, music, TV shows, video games, magazines, podcasts, social media, newspapers, music videos, web forums, newsletters, and much much more.

While we’re all aware of the influence the media has on people, not many are aware of the degree to which it can impact adults… and children can be impacted even more severely. According to Media Literacy Now, the average kindergartner sees about 70 media messages a day, and by the time they’re teenagers, they’re spending a shocking one-third of their entire day consuming media of different kinds.

iSpeakMedia reports that people are now spending an average of 11 hours a day looking at media messages. A good amount of this information is interesting, important and even educational. Unfortunately, children (and many adults) often just look at media, and don’t truly understand the information they’re examining nor absorb it. The ability to navigate the media, understand, analyse and critique the messages that are sent and received is what’s known as media literacy.

Media literacy in the 21st century is crucial, particularly for young adults and children. With the rapid growth of social media and smartphones over the past few years, children are getting exposed to more media at a younger age. It’s hard to know where to draw a line on interrupting children and their use of smartphones, but with reference to the media they’re exposed to, there are two main things that you as a parent should focus on:

  1. Media messages: The values and ideas promoted by the media

  2. Media effects: The effects and consequences that they have on people looking at them.

The History of Media

However, if you think that concern over media and its negative effects has only recently begun to do the rounds, think again! The concerns have been around for a long time, dating back to the heydays of print media in the form of yellow journalism.

Many websites use clickbait, using sensationalist or misleading headlines to get more people to click on links and subsequently generate more traffic for the website. There’s nothing new under the sun, though - and clickbait was present back in the early days of newspapers, albeit in a different form.

Yellow journalism, or using sensationalist headlines to catch eyes and exaggerate stories without any well-backed research, was used from the tail-end of the 19th century through a large part of the 20th century. Huge drawings meant to capture eyes were used to draw more people in. The ‘fake news’ and ‘tabloid journalism’ we’re tackling today draw their origins from a long time ago.

How to Help Your Children with Media Literacy

Parents may wonder where their children draw the boundaries between the virtual world and real-world experiences, as the media was and still is responsible for a lot of negativity, negative influences and sending out the wrong message.

Responsible consumption of media and creation of responsible media both exist, and following the right kind of media is the best possible way to get children to change their perceptions on the media and the world.

Critical Thinking

Train your children (and yourselves) to become critical and skeptical thinkers. Teach them to look at the information they come across and take a step back, assess what they’re seeing and try to understand what it means, why it’s out there, who it's targeted to and whether or not it’s true.

Key Questions for Media Literacy

When analysing media, ask yourself:

  1. Why was this made?

  2. Who created it?

  3. How do I know this is true?

  4. How will different people interpret it?

  5. Who benefits from this message?

  6. Who gets harmed by this message?

  7. What is missing?

Fake and exaggerated news is something that children can come across in any kind of situation where they interact with the online world. Whether it’s articles they come across while researching for homework, or advertisements claiming to give out free stuff, it’s essential to inculcate into children the importance of analysis and critical thinking in finding truly credible information.

With the constant expansion of the digital world, teaching the next generation to become critical thinkers will be a huge game-changer. Attention spans across the world have taken a hit with easy access to information, leaving people prone to false information and trust in non-credible sources. That’s why media literacy is more important than ever, as new generations take on the world.

 

Writing credit: Authored by Suren, the co-founder and CEO of Mobicip, and a passionate advocate for mobile learning and Internet safety. Suren speaks or hosts panels at conferences and seminars on these topics for parents and educators. He also serves as a consultant for educational technology projects in K-12 schools and school districts. 

Keep in touch with the latest on parenting, technology and education. Subscribe to the Mobicip newsletter. Learn more at www.mobicip.com.

Recent Blogs

Using Digital On-Ramps

Just a few weeks ago the World Health Organization announced that infants under 1 year old should not be exposed to electronic screens at all. They also say that children between the ages of 2 and 4 should not have more than one hour of “sedentary screen time” each day. In a world full of screens, a

Looking for the Perfect Thing to do this Mother’s Day? Fast from Technology!

The quintessential mother is expected to be grateful for any gift she receives from her children on Mother’s Day, and not hope for anything more. But Boss Moms know better! We’re not talking about material expectations here. We’re talking about the family being together in one place, both physically

Getting The Message Across: 21 Videos to Help You Discuss Bullying with Your Children

We believe that there are two components that determine how effectively a message is delivered. One - the relevance of the message itself. Two - the medium of communication used to get the message across. Anti-bullying has taken center stage across the world in the past few years, with a significant

Fight Fake News!

Did you know that the average life of a fake news site is 250 days? With enough traction, that fake news potentially has enough time to collapse economies and reduce a person’s hard-built reputation to shambles. In 2019, fake news is dominating our social media feeds and even our newspapers and tele

These Apps Are Not For Your Kids!

It is a tricky world out there, especially for parents trying to ensure that their children do not fall prey to online abuse and fake news. While it might be futile to try and tame the big bad wolf that is the world wide web, there are a few things you can do to protect your teens from exposing them