Media Literacy – Dealing with Society’s Messages
Young people spend a significant amount of time interacting with various forms of media from television, movies, radio/music, internet, print publications (e.g., magazines), and social media, as well as advertising across these various forms of media. Young people are inundated with messages, both explicitly and in more in subtle ways about their bodies, eating habits, relationships, sex, violence, and substance use, among others, across these media. It’s important to support media literacy, or the ability to evaluate the media messages, among young people so that they can become critical consumers of these messages. Below are some tips for supporting the media literacy of the young people in your life:
Tips for supporting the media literacy of the young people
1. Support their identity and self-esteem.For example, self-esteem developed through their interests and talents/abilities. This sets the foundation for the lens through which they interact with and receive media. Having a firm sense of self and high self-esteem may help young people read through some of the more toxic messages that they encounter.
2. Talk about it.Talking about the various media messages that they encounter helps young people to become more aware of and think critically about them, or be able to read between the lines. Be on the look out for “teachable moments” during times when you and the young person are interacting with some form of media, these moments provide opportunities to talk more organically. For instance, if you come across an advertisement in a magazine, you can have a discussion about
- Who is the advertisement is geared towards?
- Whose point of view is highlighted?
- Are there other points of view that are omitted?
- What kind of feeling/thought or reaction is it trying to elicit?
- Are there any stereotypes that are presented?
- What message was being conveyed?
- How does the message conveyed compare with your own life (e.g., values, skills/abilities, etc).