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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Media Awareness 3

One website from Canada ( gives the following suggestions to parents on how to help children with their use of the internet. Children should be made to think about the following questions:

What is the purpose of the site you are visiting? Is it to inform and educate, entertain, to persuade or to sell?

Who are the creators and authors of this website? Are they credible? Do they have the expertise to talk on this topic?

What other sites does this site link to?

What other sites link to this one?

When was this web-page created? When was this updated?

Who is the sponsor of this site? (My personal comments: You will be surprised how often a sales organization will create an educational entity as its front; but its real motive is to sell its product. Invariably the report will be biased. This is true of some of the so-called Think Tanks which are issue-based. Their research data may be accurate. But their methodology (such as their sample selection) is often chosen to favor the results they want! At the least, you should be careful with accepting the reports from these institutions.)

Here are some more suggestion for parents from Be Web Aware site.

Make sure your children verify the information they collect on the internet with other sources.

Encourage them to use variety of sources, not just the internet.

It is easy to get summaries on the internet and someone’s interpretations. Teach the children to go to the original source. It will teach them to read some classics and learn to read critically.

Sit with your children and explore some commercial sites. Teach them how these are created and get their attention and vulnerabilities. (Also see site)

Discuss hatred, bullying, racism, and other prejudices disseminated over the internet.

Make sure children discuss with you before making any purchases over the internet. Use the opportunity to teach them about spams, identity theft, savings habit etc

I have given practical suggestions till now. If you are interested you may explore the topic of media literacy in depth. Media literacy is an academic subject and several educational institutions are working on conceptual issues. If you are interested, please look at some of the websites I have given below. The Center for Media Literacy has developed some important basic concepts. Their Five Core Concepts are:

1. All media messages are constructed.

2. Media messages are constructed using a creative language with its own rules.

3. Different people experience the same media message differently.

4. Media have embedded values and points of view.

5. Most media messages are organized to gain profit and/or power.

Based on these concepts, the Center for Media Literacy suggests ways to deconstruct media messages and teach children depending on their age levels. Five key questions we want children (and us too) to ask are:

1. Who created this message?

2. What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?

3. How might different people understand this message differently?

4. What values, lifestyles and points of view are represented in or omitted from this message?

5. Why is this message being sent (to me)?

This can be restated as authorship (who wrote this and what methods were used), format, message, intended audience and the motive (purpose).

Resources on Media awareness

American Academy of Pediatrics

American Academy of Child and adolescent Psychiatry

Center for Media Education

Center for Media Literacy

Coalition for Quality Children’s Media

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