Before and After the Super Storm: Resources for Parents

Click to access the tips (in PDF form).

If ever there is a time to keep our media literacy skills front and center, it’s after a national disaster. Adults need to regulate and monitor what children see and, more importantly, adults need to remember that children see and hear a lot more than we sometimes think.

Check out the blog posting Protecting Children From the Media’s Storm Coverage. Written by K.J. Dell’Antonia, the New York Times Motherlode blogger, the November 2, 2012 article focuses on the need to limit children’s exposure to storm-related media coverage.
The Motherlode article directs readers to a two-page document that offers even more information about protecting children from prolonged traumatic event coverage — a free PDF available from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene website. The two-page article, Protecting Children from Disturbing Media Reports During Traumatic Events, offers tips for parents and caregivers, going into detail about what children understand at each age level.        Continue reading

7 Questions to Ask Before Sharing Hurricane Sandy Media With Kids

The Pier Before the Storm
Photo by Marti Weston, 2008

Parents and teachers of digital kids should make it a habit to evaluate media for authenticity and reliability rather than automatically sharing dramatic images with children. Evaluating media is a critical 21st Century skill — for adults and children

The other day a friend sent me a link to a storm picture. The image featured a familiar ocean pier with huge waves about to crash onto its farthest end. (The photo at left is the pier long before the storm). While the drama of the image intrigued me, on reflection I was bothered because I could not learn anything about the website that hosted the image. Other than labeling the town and the storm, the photograph offered no other identifying narrative.

With its etherial quality, the image looked as if the pier was superimposed over a dramatic ocean scene — the waves and spray crashing at one end while the rest of the structure was clear without any water or spray obstructions. Moreover, since I was familiar with the location, I could not figure out where the photographer stood to take the picture. Perhaps I was wrong, but since I could not discover anything more about the picture, I decided not to send it to anyone else, and I am not even posting it here.

When a huge emergency like Hurricane Sandy occurs, digital pictures and videos circulate all over the web and via social media. A fair amount of these digital materials mis-represent the situation. To avoid focusing too much on the misrepresentations we need to apply some 21st Century common sense. Continue reading

Hurricane Sandy: Finding Reliable Information That Helps You Learn as Well as Look

When a super storm event like Hurricane Sandy occurs, digital kids and their families get a good, and sometimes sobering opportunity to learn a lot more about the work of journalists — professional and citizen — as well as first responders. Much suffering, as well as amazing feats of service to others, occur during these events, so it’s important to view and consume the most authentic of resources available.

Hurricane Sandy damaged the
Ocean Grove Great Auditorium.
Photo by Paul Goldfinger  and Blogfinger.net. Used with permission.

Lots of Hurricane Sandy coverage can be found in newspapers, blogs, and other social media, offering us opportunities learn together as families — as we share the content about the storm, the terrible damage it caused, and the ways that people responded. Children and adults will also use these resources in the coming days to figure out how to help, and in the process we all strengthen our media literacy skills (important in today’s world) by identifying the best and most reliable sources of information.

The other day I discovered an amazing blog as I searched for coverage of the storm and its effects on Ocean Grove, New Jersey (where I spent many happy summers as a child). Run by Paul Goldfinger and colleagues, Blogfinger.net offers me on-the-scene hurricane reports from the little beach town, so dear to me and my family, and now without its own newspaper.

Blogfinger — I discovered it thanks to my cousin, also know as Sandy — turned out to be a terrific resource. It has solid  information, great pictures, and well-written narrative. The picture to the right, shows the damage to the Great Auditorium, a structure listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and a place where I’ve attended dozens of worship services and concerts. You can check out many other Ocean Grove photographs at the Blogfinger site.

One does not need to look far, however, to find examples of unreliable sources.                 Continue reading