Media literacy for children has received a lot of attention this year due, in large part, to the US presidential elections and the subsequent focus on the phenomenon of fake news or fake news. While media literacy can be used to train children (and adults) to detect unreliable news, discipline is even more effective. Children are bombarded daily with media messages (advertisements, television, digital environments, books, etc.) and require the tools to make sense of all this and, in the process, become agents of change.
Media literacy for children
In the United States, 75% of children aged 0 to 8 have access to mobile devices at home. The percentage in Spain is lower, with 60% -more than half- of children between 9 and 12 who access the Internet daily, according to the London School of Economics. In both cases, children go to watch videos, television, games, and a variety of other digital activities.
Now let’s look at what they are seeing.
There were twice as many male characters as female characters. The same study also found that 72% of the characters were white and the color characters are often shown as part of a team, and not as individuals. Children, regardless of race, are generally represented as daring, more elegant than adults, and annoying.
How can we empower our children?
The ability to critically consume the media, as well as create them, are essential skills of the 21st century.
Media literacy is a vital part of social justice and diversity work. The ability to critically consume the media, as well as to create them, are essential skills of the 21st century, children need training. Through media literacy, sexist, racist, and heteronormative messages can be deconstructed and dismantled. We can separate our identities from those that the media try to sell us (that is, being perfect, the consumer, whiteness as the norm, etc.).
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It is also possible to decipher what news and information are reliable and balanced in a media landscape full of false news. It is making us informed citizens who can take meaningful action for positive change.
In order for children to develop a positive identity, the skills required for the 21st century establish that they must be able to question the messages of the media and know. They can react against them, depart from these speeches, and create their own media.
Perhaps in this way one day a superhero movie will appear on television where the protagonist is a 10-year-old black girl, an advertisement where a white boy is buying pink ballet clothes or a television show. In which, an American Chinese girl is known for preventing bullies from injuring others. These are real examples of the media that 7, 8, and 9-year-old children have created.
They used their media literacy tools for persuasion and technology. They know how to create attractive media messages that allow their target audience (other children) to look outside the stereotypes that our screens normally occupy.
These practices are right to give students the power to transform the media landscape into one that is powerful, representative, and inclusive. With this type of transformation, it is possible to address social justice issues powerfully. Media literacy for children can be a fundamental tool for positive social change.