According to a Kaiser Foundation study, kids spend the equivalent of a full-time workweek using media each week . As parents, we need to make sure our kids know how to “read” the media, so that they learn what we want them to learn from it, and don't learn things we would consider to be the wrong messages. Knowing how to “read” messages in the media (including TV, movies, magazines, advertisements, computer and video games, popular music, and the Internet) is called media literacy.
Kids need to learn to:
- Recognize how media messages influence and manipulate us.
- Think critically about media messages—to uncover hidden messages and values.
- Interpret media messages in ways that do not damage their self-esteem.
- Talking to kids and teens about social media and sexting—from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
- Q&A on TV and movie ratings —from the AAP: Information about ratings systems for movies, videos, television, computer and video games, coin-operated video games, and music.
- Media exposure feeding children’s violent acts—news from the AAP
- Sex, the Media and Your Child—from the AAP
- Children's Media Use Topics—from the AAP
- Teaching Students to View TV Critically —from the Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC)
- Educating the Consumer about Advertising —from ERIC
- Media Literacy for Drug Prevention is a unit for middle school educators from the New York Times
- Cell phones—from the Center on Media and Child Health (CMCH)
- Do media affect school performance?—from CMCH: News, research and comment
- Obesity: Has media use replaced physical activity? –from CMCH: News, research and comment
- AAP Policy Statements:
Media guides for parents:
Some websites offer media ratings and educational guides to help parents make decisions about what might be appropriate for their kids. Of course the best way to determine the appropriateness of a movie, TV show, or media game is to try it yourself, or view it with your child. Here is one guide/rating site:
- Common Sense Media offers age recommendations, descriptions of content, and parent advice on many types of media: movies, games, websites, TV, books, and music..
- Kids First! (Please note: This website recommends titles for babies and toddlers ages 0-2. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics cautions that children this age should not watch TV . Very young children need interaction with their caregivers for healthy development.)
- Media Matters is a national public education campaign of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
- The Center for Media Literacy works for “empowerment through education” in today's mass media culture.
- The Center on Media and Child Health (based at Children’s Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School, and Harvard School of Public Health) is dedicated to understanding and responding to the effects of media on the physical, mental, and social health of children through research, production, and education.
- Media Awareness Network is a Canadian group with a wealth of information for parents. In English and French.
- The Media Literacy Clearinghouse is a web page designed for K-12 educators who want to learn more about media literacy and fit it into their lesson plans.
- New Mexico Media Literacy Project provides media literacy materials with an activist message.
- The Media Education Foundation produces and distributes video documentaries to encourage critical thinking and debate about the relationship between media ownership, commercial media content, and the democratic demand for free flows of information, diverse representations of ideas and people, and informed citizen participation.
- Listen Up! Youth Media Producers is a vehicle for youth media producers.
- KQED Youth Media Corps strives to open the doors of communication and collaboration between media professionals and youth. Young people in the program develop media literacy skills to evaluate and respond to media leading to a more informed and empowered citizenry. By adding youth voices into the regular mix of mainstream media the KQED Youth Media Corps ensures accurate, relevant and fair representation of issues that affect youth and their communities.
- Just Think offers programs that teach young people to understand, evaluate, and create media messages.
- Youth Visions / Reel Action / Downtown Initiative for the Visual Arts (DIVA) is a site about news and opportunities for teen media producers.
- Don't Buy It! Get Media Smart—from PBS Kids, teaches kids (especially ages 9-11) to think critically about what they see and hear on TV, radio and the Web.
- Advertising in the Schools —from ERIC
- The Commercialism in Education Research Unit at Arizona State University conducts research, disseminates information, and helps facilitate dialogue between the education community, policy makers, and the public at large about commercial activities in schools. CERU is the only national academic research center dedicated to schoolhouse commercialism.
- The Center for a New American Dream works to counter the commercialization of our culture.
- Commercial Alert works to keep the commercial culture within its proper sphere, and to prevent it from exploiting children and subverting the higher values of family, community, environmental integrity and democracy.
- Smoke Free Movies is a project aimed at sharply reducing the U.S. film industry's usefulness to Big Tobacco's domestic and global marketing — a leading cause of disability and premature death.
- For Kids: PBS Kids Don’t Buy It is a media literacy Web site for young people that encourages users to think critically about media and become smart consumers. Activities on the site are designed to provide users with some of the skills and knowledge needed to question, analyze, interpret and evaluate media messages.
- The National Black Programming Consortium is a non-profit national media arts organization committed to the presentation, funding, promotion, distribution and preservation of positive images of African Americans and the African Diaspora.
- Managing Television: Tips for Families
- The Internet
- Video Games
- Obesity and Overweight
- YourChild Internet Guide: Best of the Web on Parenting, Child Behavior and Development—parents need media savvy too! Here’s how to find quality parenting information online, and weed out the junk.
Related YourChild podcasts:
Compiled by Kyla Boyse, R.N. Reviewed by faculty and staff at the University of Michigan
Updated November 2009
U-M Health System Related Sites: