Asking the Right Questions: How to Teach Your Child Media Literacy

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Asking the Right Questions: How to Teach Your Child Media Literacy

By Dr. Ted Baehr

Media literacy involves training the student to access, analyze, interpret, and create media messages.

Access means that the student not only has access to media delivery devices, such as a TV, computer, or VCR, but also understands how to them on, operate them and use them to deliver messages.  A student can’t “access” a VCR if he doesn’t know how to plug in the various wires, insert a tape, record, and playback.

Analyzing means that the student comprehends the storyline or meaning of a program and understands how it may have been put together.  Understanding a media program requires some comprehension of the way it was made.

Interpretation means that the student understands both the story and the agenda, which may be part of the underlying message.  If the program is produced by a celebrity with an agenda, such as Oliver Stone, or sponsored by an advocacy group, such as the World Wildlife Fund, one can assume the producer or sponsor will use the program to promote their views. Some television networks have designed their programs to appeal to the world of singles who live together and who accept divorce and homosexuality.  By doing so, they often stretch the bounds of acceptable programming.

Creating media messages helps the student understand what to look for in the media.  When teenagers produce a creative short video, the script, actors, sets, shots, sounds, and scenery become important decisions. When I helped disenfranchised adolescents in New York City in 1978 and 1979 create media messages based on Jesus’s parables, many of these teenagers accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and many became actively involved in their local church.

Editor’s Note: These articles are adapted from Dr. Ted Baehr’s THE CULTURE WISE FAMILY book. You can buy a copy from www.movieguide.org or on Amazon.

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