Campaign Advertising — Media at Its Worst for Kids

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.

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To Learn a lot more listen to 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:

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You Can be Media Savvy with Your Kids in 2012!

Common Sense Media recently posted Six Ways to be a Media Savvy Parent in 2012. The December 2011 report suggests all sorts of ideas that can help parents (and other adults) develop stronger media (and media literacy) skills.

Suggestions include downloading a game to play with the kids, trying out a social media site, investigating YouTube, and much more. Some these can ideas will provide great fun for kids and parents over the holiday vacation.

Visit Common Sense Media and try out some of these features.

Thanks to my colleague and friend Renee Hawkins for spotting a good media post (one that I had missed). Renee blogs with another friend and colleague, Susan Davis, at The Flying Trapeze.

Discouraging News on the Media Lit Frontier

Zero to Eight: Children's Media Use in America, p 11

The New York Times has reported on a Common Sense Media (CSM) sponsored study, Zero to Eight, Children’s Media Use in America (PDF). The Times article, Screen Time Higher Than Ever for Children, describes the study and points out that kids are in front of a screen more than ever despite the recommendations of their doctors.

After reading this I am feeling a bit more pessimistic than usual. Adults are used to tossing health caution to the wind for themselves, but we were vigilant about protecting the health of our children. Now we seem to  disregard the recommendations of pediatricians — the very people who can help us do the most possible to ensure that our kids grown into strong and productive adults. Are we as a society less and less concerned about the development of strong minds? Times reporter Tamar Lewin writes:

Despite the American Academy of Pediatrics’ longstanding recommendations to the contrary, children under 8 are spending more time than ever in front of screens…

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Why Social Media? Especially Why in My Child’s Classroom??

Read this thought-provoking post, Why Social Media Tools Have a Place in the Classroom, over at the GigaOM blog. Writer Ryan Kim goes into considerable detail describing reactions to a recent New York Times article, Speaking Up in Class, Silently, Using Social Media. Kim’s blog post then goes on to offer some compelling reasons why teachers (and probably parents, too) should examine social media more thoughtfully before rushing to judgement.

Learn a bit more about the GigaOM blog.

Social Media, bin Laden and Student Reactions

Read this Spotlight Blog post.

Are you looking for an interesting overview of the surreal celebrations on Sunday night, May 1, 2011 after the announcement about the death of Osama bin Laden?  Check out this post on the MacArthur Foundations’s Spotlight on Digital Media and Learning blog.

The Rise of Social Media and the Death of Osama bin Laden: Students Debate the Meaning of it All includes quotes, links to various media coverage, social media communication and helpful resources that shed some light on the spontaneous and unusually celebratory events that occurred around the United States.

A link to the NPR story on the celebrations takes readers to one of the most interesting comments, for me anyway. Part of one comment is below.

Mr. ADAM EVAN ANGLE (Student, Boston University): So I grew up under the specter of Osama bin Laden as the boogeyman. He was our Lord Vuldemort, if you will, like in Harry Potter, you know. He was pretty much the face of evil.

As a teacher and parent who lived through years with the Harry Potter phenomenon I can completely understand this comment.

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Talking to Children About the News

News saturates our world. The electronic media makes small events large and dramatic events frightening. Moreover, with around-the-clock media coverage, many news stories feel like they will never end. Read Facts for Families: Children and the News, at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry website.

So what should parents do to help children process news, especially when a frightening or dramatic event is relentlessly covered in the media? Continue reading

How Much TV? Again

Visit this site for list of questions that parents can use to help children evaluate television advertisements.

Right now, around Superbowl weekend, lots of people write and debate about how much television is okay for young children to watch, and many parents wring their hands about manipulative advertising. This brings back memories.

I don’t talk about this often, but 29 years ago when our television broke, we had a new baby and not enough money, so we decided to put off the purchase of a new TV. The delay went on for six years until our daughter was seven years old. Originally we did not make a decision out of any deep philosophical principles — and back then there was a lot less research about the effect of TV-watching on young children — we simply did not have money that we wanted to spend on a new set just then (or we had other things we wanted to purchase , I really don’t remember). However, gradually we forgot our plans to purchase a new television because we liked what happened in our family.

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