The tenor of the political advertising in this election season is appalling, and it will get worse. Because no code of best practices exists when it comes to campaign advertising, the current presidential election cycle media will feature unending ads that stretch the truth or make up the facts outright and deliver them straight into the lives of kids. While it’s a fine opportunity to help citizens, young and old, strengthen their media literacy skills, television is over-exposing all of us to some unfortunate and distressing content.
To Learn a lot more, listen to a recently broadcast Diane Rehm Show about the non-candidate SuperPACs that are spending enormous sums on political advertisements. Jane Mayer’s recent New Yorker article, Attack Dog, is another comprehensive article. Talking to children about what they are seeing on television is critical, especially during an election cycle.
In a February 26, 2012 piece published at the USA Today Teachers’ Lounge (link no longer available), media lit guru, Frank Baker pithily describes the situation. He writes:
I wouldn’t be surprised if voters in the early primary and caucus states have thrown their televisions out the window– after being bombarded by political campaign commercials on TV, not all of them produced by the candidates. A recent analysis of the tone of the ads finds them to be not only more frequent, but also decidedly more vicious.
Whether you are a parent or teacher, or work with kids and adolescents in some other way, I recommend Baker’s article as well as his media resources website, his books (I’ve read Political Campaigns and Political Advertising), and his political ad analysis worksheet.
Today’s political advertisement status quo teaches children and young adults that it’s OK to use digital media to disregard and disrespect others — precisely what we don’t want them to do when it comes to 21st-century digital citizenship.
We need to find a better way.