Media Literacy for Tweens, Teens and Parents, too

8:50 AM

Raising two boys with different needs and interest makes my role as a mom even more interesting and challenging, especially in this digital age.  My kids are entering into awkward phase between childhood and adolescence called “tween”.  They are in a stage of becoming conscious not only in their appearance but also how they should be treated.  They try to search for their place in this world, they follow the trends and starting to be aware of what is happening around them.  I am always in search for the powerful ways how I can provide their needs to acquire critical foundation of self-esteem.  That foundation can be useful in their adeptness with digital media, of which their world revolves.

I observed that they demanded space and time to discover who they are and what they like to do.  I can hear a statement like, “Mom, I don’t want to talk about it now.”  They prefer to stay home than be with me in a grocery.  And I think we need to allow that space and time they demanded. But we should be watchful that their time are well-spent to activities that enhance creativity, learn something new through reading books or exploring the real world.

It is well-known to us that their generation is more susceptible into a lot of information that might distract the growth of their self-esteem.  In this digital age, multimedia has a great impact in our lives.  We cannot always control how these may affect our children.  It is so important to train them to be media-and-information-literate.

Based on the book Growing Up Wired-Raising Kids in the digital age, here are the ways to help children be literate in digital and media use.

1. Access

It is the awareness of our child the information they can access is relevant and useful in school, at home, and in actual life.  It is necessary to emphasize the time they can access information.  For example Facebook or Instagram.  We allowed our kids to submit application and lie on their age just to have their own Facebook or Instagram accounts.  Worse, we tolerate that.  We can set rules on sites that they can visit.  

2. Analyze and evaluate
In any sites, blogs, radio and TV program, we can assess by asking ourselves and our children:  Is the information worthwhile and value-laden for you?  Is it worth sharing?  What are the possible consequences of sharing such information?  Through these questions, they can develop critical thinking skills.  They can be aware of their own thoughts on things they can see in the media.

3.  Create
Yes, it is a self-expression but we have to be more responsible in the information we create and disseminate.  Again, we ask: To whom do we create this information?  Who are we targeting? What feeling or insight do we expect to stir up in our audience?  Will it be inspiring or distracting?  Let’s think very well before posting.  If our kids can answer these questions very well every time they post, then they can create a sense of responsibility.

4.  Reflecting
We can ask a questions like: How does the content affect you/me? Has it change my words and actions?  Can this piece of information serve a bigger purpose, given my personal and social responsibilities?

Some of us post a picture as a self-expression without considering how our actions may affects others,  without knowing how our online behavior is a manifestation of how we are as a persons.

Reflection calls for self-awareness, empathy, and a sense of responsibility.  

5.  Act
It is necessary for our children to act.  It is being able to use the media information in our daily living.  For example, cyberbullying, we can encourage our kids to discuss their thoughts and create a family rules to discourage such kind of behavior.

Yes, there are more influences beyond our control, that’s why we need to develop their critical thinking skills, take responsibility and act in ways that can benefit them and those around them.

We have to establish open communication and parental regulation on the use of gadgets and internet.

Here's an insight from a mom.

“Only with constant parental involvement and regulation can we safeguard our children negative traps of cyberspace.  We parents must be vigilant in embracing full accountability in forming our young to become responsible and capable of practicing self-control over their wants and resisting peer conformity.”-Rhoda Buenaventura-Pinlac, Mother of two, guidance counselor. 

We are called "Millenial Parents", we have to raise our children wisely and responsibly while navigating the wired world. It's immensely challenging so media literacy on our side is definitely important.


                                                                                          Be media literate!

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