Ideas for Families
Because the majority of kids’ media use happens in the home, parents, grandparents and caregivers have an important role to play in helping young people get the most of the media they love. Media literacy is not media management or monitoring, rather it’s getting kids to think critically about what they are doing, seeing and hearing when they interact with media.
Here are some tips for integrating media literacy into the home:
- Talk about it: Just the simple act of having a conversation about TV, movies, music, Internet, video games, etc. with your kids will open up the door to them becoming more media literate. Keep the conversation neutral and positive. In other words don’t lecture or nag! Instead ask them questions to get the dialogue started. Start this habit early, and then as they get older, encourage them to ask questions of their own.For a list of sample questions to start the dialogue see tip sheet Co-Viewing with Your Kids. For tips on how to talk to kids about various media issues see the Tip Sheets section.
- Look for teachable moments: Media aren’t just scripted and packaged products: breaking news stories, scandals and celebrity meltdowns are all great opportunities for conversation.
- Respect your kids’ media choices: While you have a right to decide what media products you’ll allow in your home, your kids may develop very different tastes than yours. Resist the urge to try to show them what’s “wrong” about their media choices, even if some of the content makes you uncomfortable. Instead, give them the skills to ask their own questions and reach their own conclusions. Don’t forget to look at positive examples when talking about things like stereotyping.
- Encourage media production: Give your kids the opportunity to create their own media, not just analyze it. There’s no substitute for hands-on experience to help kids understand how things like editing and music can influence the way a movie or TV show affects us emotionally. Learning how to code and create apps will help foster important digital skills for the future.
For a list of organizations who host digital production workshops for kids see our list of collaborators.
There are lots of great resources on the For Parents section on the MediaSmarts website that you can share with your kids for a “media literacy moment” during media literacy week.
- Privacy Pirates: Explains to kids (ages 7-9) the concept of online privacy and how to know when, and where, to give out certain information online.
- Co-Co’s AdverSmarts: An Interactive Unit on Food Marketing on the Web: Helps kids (ages 5-8) recognize the marketing techniques used on commercial Web sites that target children.
- Data Defenders: new! Teaches kids and pre-teens (ages 8-12) the concept of personal information and its economic value, and introduces them to ways to manage and protect their personal information on websites and apps they enjoy.
- Privacy Playground: The First Adventure of the Three CyberPigs: Shows kids (ages 8-10) how to spot online marketing strategies, protect their personal information and avoid online predators.
- CyberSense and Nonsense: The Second Adventure of The Three CyberPigs: Teaches kids (ages 9-12) important lessons about authenticating online information and observing rules of netiquette.
The Media Literacy 101 series of engaging videos were created to explain the five key concepts of media literacy to kids. Each one is only a minute long and they are fun and engaging to watch. There is an assignment at the end of each one to stimulate a discussion with your kids about how media and why various media are created.
Parenting the Digital Generation is a self-directed online tutorial that looks at the various activities kids love to do online and offers tips and strategies for everything from Facebook privacy settings, online shopping, cyberbullying, to protecting your computer from viruses.
The Parent Network: Social Media and Your Kids Workshop helps parents better understand how their kids are using social networking and to provide them with tips and tools they can use to help them minimize negative experiences and maximize the positive opportunities that social media has to offer. Post-workshop activities provided in the workshop guide give parents a chance to reflect and build on what they’ve learned in the presentation.