Media Literacy, Girls, Women, and Beauty Magazines

medialit-mag-video-thumbnail

Check out the video below.

Each month I receive several teen and women’s magazines to look over, and I immediately go through each one to tear out scads of perfume advertisements. My allergies react to the scented pages, and it is much easier to read the articles when I vanquish the perfume ads .

Recently I began thinking about how many advertising pages — perfumes and everything else — publishers cram into each issue that we read, knowing that almost all of them focus on female body image and portray unrealistic, and usually unattainable perfection. These days, so much of what kids see is digital, but these magazines still loom large in the lives of pre-teen and adolescents girls.

Continue reading

Collecting Information — Even From Selfies?

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 9.16.16 PMThere seems to be a way to collect information about — well — everything.

Now that includes our images, and more specifically the selfies that we informally snap and share. Parents of 21st Century digital kids need to know that data mining reaches ever farther into our lives, seeking information from our most spontaneous and casual digital image creating activities.

An October 10, 2014 article in AdWeek, How Marketers Are Mining Your Selfies for Data: Chances are, Without You Knowing, describes how data mining firms collect information on the millions of pictures that are casually uploaded and without privacy settings.                Continue reading

The Media Is the Message for Our Children

Listen to a Los Angles CBS video about the story.

Listen to a Los Angles CBS video about the controversy and read the story.

In light of the extraordinary negative media messages about body image  in children’s lives, ensuring the strength and confidence of preadolescents and teens is a continuing challenge for parents and teachers. So much of the advertising markets thinness, popularity, sexuality, and one type of attractiveness, so it can be difficult for adults to counteract the effect of the of this pressure on a child.

Sometimes the entire ethos of a company emphasizes values that we do not want children in our care to adopt.

A distressing article over at the Huffington Post, A Message to Abercrombie’s CEO from a Former Fat Girl by Sara Taney Humphreys, highlights how one company has made exclusion, intentionally or otherwise, a part of its mission. Humpheys’ article isn’t about something that happened recently, but rather a quote from a 2006 Salon article about the CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch. While  the article is more than six years old, the comments are disturbing, especially given the number of children who like to shop at Abercrombie and the many others who struggle with body image. Below is a quote from the Salon article.

As far as Jeffries is concerned, America’s unattractive, overweight or otherwise undesirable teens can shop elsewhere. “In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he says. “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either.”

You can also listen to this ABC Chicago television story (after an airlines advertisement), including interviews with teenagers — many of whom can fit into the Abercrombie clothes but choose not to buy them. The teens are demonstrating at one of the stores in Chicago.

You might also want to look over the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) statement on media and children.

Advertising With Kids as Targets

For several months I’ve been carrying around a New York Times article, How Advertising Targets Our Children, from the February 11, 2013 edition. Written by pediatrician Perri Klass the Well Blog post points out that recently published research links, even more strongly, the exposure of alcohol advertising to a child’s movement toward unhealthy behaviors.

Health Children Media Ed

Check out the Media Resources at HealthyChildren.org.

Dr. Klass writes about Exposure to Alcohol Advertisements and Teenage Alcohol-Related Problems (abstract), a Pediatrics article describing new research that finds a stronger association between unhealthy behaviors and the amount of advertising in the lives of children and adolescents. The researchers followed nearly 4,000 children in grades seven through ten.

Read the full text of the Pediatrics article.

In her article Klass quotes the researchers, experts from the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy, and pediatrics professors from the Children’s Hospital at Stanford University who have studied the links between childhood obesity and screen time.

Continue reading

The Children are Watching and Seeing, Listening and and Hearing

They watch us all the time. The students, that is. They listen to us sometimes. They learn from all that watching and listening.

                            –Theodore and Nancy Faust Sizer, The Students are Watching, 1999, Beacon Press

The Sizers wrote about classrooms and schools, explaining that students learn from what their teachers do and say and also from the things their teachers do not do or say. The authors illustrated their points in many ways, demonstrating how much our students learn from the things we do not do.

I read the Sizer’s book in the later 1990s with my growing child at home, so it was easy to see how the lessons applied not just to teachers but also to everyday family life. The message — that children learn from what we don’t do and don’t say as much as from the things we intentionally teach — applies well at home and at school.

This week, with so many media-rich events, I thought about the Sizers’ book. Adults spent a huge amount of time-consuming news about superstorm Sandy, the election, and for a few minutes, many of us gazed at a viral short video of a little girl crying out “No more Bronco Bama and Mitt Romney.” We encountered non-stop negative television commercials, disaster pictures and videos, television news programs, robo telephone calls, radios tuned into programs all day long (yes, I am guilty of keeping NPR on most of the day when I am home), and plain old-fashioned magazines and newspapers. Lot’s of us may have felt like crying. But my question is, “Why did Abby hear or see so much that she started to cry?”

Muppet Lydia Whatnot summed things up in her YouTube response

Continue reading

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.

Click to visit.

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:

Continue reading

Quiz: How Much do You Know About Social Media?

Take the quiz!

To get a sense of how much you really know about the social networking world and the movers and shakers who are actively developing and tweaking it, take a social media quiz. The Big Social Media Quiz over at the Liberate Media website.

A user needs 70% to pass this quiz, and though I know all sorts of minutia about social media, I only answered 50% of the questions correctly. Sigh!

Liberate Media is a PR firm with social media expertise.