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Media Literacy Education for Children

Updated on August 19, 2013

What is Media Literacy?

Media literacy is the ability to analyze the many different media forms in our world. It enables children to use critical thinking to determine the meaning of messages that bombard everything from music videos to virtual reality games. With the rise in technology there is also an increase in the media that children are exposed to. For this reason it is important that they learn to understand the influence the messages can have on our way of looking at the world around us.

As parents we want our children to be active in their response to the messages. If we let our children be passive we run the risk of them getting sucked into a vortex of media mayhem. Will they need to be skinny? Will they need to be rich? Will they need to be pretty? Media education encourages children to think critically about the messages they encounter everyday and consider the perspective of those who created them. They learn to ask questions and develop opinions about the reality that is being portrayed to them in advertising.

Media Education

Media messages are created with a wide variety of tools – headlines that grab our attention, visual effects, sound effects, choice words, photographs, etc. These tools are used to persuade the viewer and sensationalize reality. Teaching children to analyze messages is necessary to make them active in their response to media’s powerful influences. Media education encourages children to explore different perspectives and make inferences about the information being presented to them. For instance, a person that is smiling while drinking a soft drink communicates the message that the soda will make you feel happy. There may even be a bright sunshine in the picture to convey this message further. Learning to analyze and think critically empowers children to resist influences that could have a negative effect in their understanding and interpretation of the world.

What does this advertisement say to you?
What does this advertisement say to you?

Media Literacy Questions

We can educate children about media by encouraging a probing approach, that helps them to think about the intentions of the message. The following are questions that help guide children to think critically.

  • What is the message in the advertisement?
  • Who is the message intended for?
  • Who wants to reach this audience and why?
  • From what perspective is the message given?
  • How well does the message represent reality?
  • Whose voices are heard and whose are not?
  • What strategies does the message use to get my attention?
  • Who might see this advertisement differently?

Media's Influence on Children

How do you feel about the messages in media advertising directed at children?

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Media Awareness

Raising media awareness in children can happen anytime in real everyday situations. Take the shopping mall for example or a simple website browsing session on the computer with your child. There are plenty of opportunities to analyze media messages. It is valuable to take advantage of these opportunities by asking questions that help children to think critically. For instance, you might ask why there are sports stars on advertisements for clothing. Teaching children to analyze media empowers them to form opinions in response to the messages they encounter. It also helps to protect them from possible negative influences that may be lurking under the surface.


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    • Sturgeonl profile image

      Sturgeonl 5 years ago

      Thanks for the feedback RedElf.

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 5 years ago from Canada

      Excellent, and well-presented information! Rated up and shared!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      These are the same questions I ask my advertising students and they do help to understand the target audience and the message clearly. I am glad to see your suggestions prove beneficial in teaching children the importance of discerning quality media literacy. Great hub and voted up!