How Schools and Parents Can Promote Media Literacy
In the past decade, the education system has undergone various stages of change in terms of methods of imparting knowledge to students. The system, at present, aims to focus more on skill-based teaching instead of the traditional bookish rote-learning. This need of teaching and providing students with knowledge and experience. Only appropriate skills can support this with their abilities. This happens to open a new avenue for ways in which schools and parents can promote media literacy through education. We live in an outstandingly media-rich world.
Lets admit. We wake up to our phones, work on our laptops, and fall asleep with our TVs, and most of the times we Indians see thousands of advertisements each day. Living in a digital age, our children are surrounded by information as soon as they are born. Be it your infant watching nursery rhymes or you reading about the best footballer from a sports journal for kids– everything provides information. Where does all this information come from? The media. And so media literacy is so much important.
What is Media Literacy?
Media literacy means knowing and recognizing different types of media along with the information being conveyed by them. Anything from traditional media channels like newspapers, and journals to radio and TV- all of these constitute the media. With the advent of social media platforms, the spectrum of media has become broader than ever.
Media is known as the fourth pillar of democracy. With information and news going viral, it has become a need of the hour to teach social media literacy to students. There lies a sense of ‘immediacy’ on social media, to be the first to post or share something. Among all this rapidness, the authenticity of the information often gets lost and paves way for fake news.
Let’s face it. We cannot take smartphones and other digital devices away from students especially when it has become a medium of imparting education for most of them in current times. What we can do is make them responsible users of the media by introducing and promoting media literacy for kids in schools and at home. While there are tons of educational materials available in the form of books or online websites, nothing can beat the importance of real-time classroom discussions. Now you must be thinking “but how do I do it?” “Where do I start?” Relax! We have Media Literacy Made Easy:
5 Ways in Which Schools and Parents can Promote Media Literacy
The ABCD of Media
Just like you begin by teaching the basics of every subject, start by teaching what the media is and how it works. This will lay a foundation for them to know what a vast industry it actually is, who creates information and how.
Giving them practical exposure to various media platforms apart from theoretical knowledge is essential to achieve a better understanding of the media. Their presence on social as well as traditional media platforms can help them observe the various aspects of media. For instance, ask each one of them to bring a newspaper or magazine of their choice once a week . Tell them to read out any three headlines which they think are important. You can also ask them to bring any two screenshots of online advertisements. Show these on a projector in your classroom and have a fun learning session on the different types of online advertisements!
Every media entity, be it individual or organizational, creates information based on certain underlying motives. This may include commercial, political, social, or cultural agenda. Understanding and analyzing the right agenda behind information can be a great start for students to learn media literacy. This can be done by providing a group of students with a case study You can ask them to give pointers based on their understanding. The teacher can then evaluate and discuss each of these points.
Information is always directed towards something or someone – the target market or the target audience. With the help of relevant examples, help them identify the target audience of the media and whether the agenda influences the selection of the target audience and how. This will help them anticipate why they perceive a media message in a particular way.
Spot the Difference
Content of media differs largely from one medium to another. Each of these has its own unique way of sending out information. Why not use fun weekend activity to teach the different types of media channels to kids? Select one topic of information and ask your students to gather information about it over the weekend from any 5 channels of media. Make a collage of it and bring it to the classroom. Ask them to draw a table, pointing out the differences and similarities between each of the channels. Have a detailed discussion later!
Look around us. Media and its overflowing information, surrounds us every time and tries to tell us something. It is up to us to prioritize our consumption of the media and choose what to believe. Media addresses and reflects various cultures and backgrounds.
It has the capacity to give our students the taste of life right from their elementary years which otherwise would happen much later. Fake news is all over. Its high time parents can promote media literacy. they can even teach it to students as an educational framework. A small effort of chalking out a plan on how to develop media literacy from our side can help our young students become informed and skilled individuals!