Youth and media: Create ongoing dialog about its use

Having conversations with young people about media calls for adults to have their own thoughtful reflections.

Helping kids develop skills to critically analyze and challenge media messages is an important role for the adults in their lives. Before undertaking these kinds of discussions with young people, experts stress that adults need to do their own self-reflection so that they can encourage dialog with kids around these issues.

The following suggestions are adapted from “Five Tips for Raising Media Savvy Kids” (written by Lyn Mikel Brown, Sharon Lamb and Mark Tappan of Hardy Girls, Healthy Women, and “Literacy for the 21st Century” written by Elizabeth Thoman and Tessa Jolls of the Center for Media Literacy.

  • Am I willing to do my own work in order to understand what young people may be watching, reading and listening to? Am I willing to pay attention to thoughts and feelings that come up for me as I do this exploration? 
  • Am I trying to tell young people what the messages are? Or am I helping them develop skills to determine what they think the messages might be?
  • Am I really listening to kids as they share their thoughts about what they’re watching, reading or listening to, keeping in mind that their reasons and interpretations may be very different from my own?
  • Have I let them know that I’m open to their responses or have I conveyed that my interpretations and responses are the only correct ones? Are all of us – including me – willing to dig deeper to learn more?
  • Is my goal to help young people become more cynical about media – or do I want to help them develop their analytical and critical thinking skills, along with options for using their voices to respond to messages that could be causing harm?

To learn more about these issues, visit the articles, “Youth and media: Help youth see through negative messages” and “Youth and media: Equip them to challenge unhealthy messages."

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