Early Media Literacy

A Guide for Parents
by Rebecca Hains, Ph.D.

As seen on Wisconsin Public Radio and The Christian Science Monitor

Young children can become media literate with their parents’ help—learning to think critically about what they see on screen. In today’s media-saturated world, this is an important goal.

To be media literate, our kids need to (1) understand how the media work, (2) be able to think critically about media content, and (3) learn how to create their own media texts–empowering them not just to consume, but also create. And when it comes to fostering media literacy, earlier is better.

Unfortunately, there are precious few resources online to help parents of young children develop their children’s media literacy skills. A lot of the advice boils down to either “restrict their screen time” or “make sure you watch with them.”

While these strategies can be useful, neither has been shown to actually help children think critically about what’s on the screen. In fact, these strategies can be counterproductive.

So, I wrote a series especially for parents. It’s called “Media Literacy for Preschoolers,” and it’s in four parts. Here are all the links:

  • Part 1: Helping children understand how the media work (e.g., that advertisements are trying to sell us things)
  • Part 2: Helping children think critically about media content (e.g., comparing what’s on screen with your family’s values)
  • Part 3: Understanding that media are created by people–which means we can create media, too!
  • Part 4: Tips and resources:
    • 5 key tips for fostering media literacy in your preschooler
    • Discussing media literacy with preschoolers: Conversation ideas
    • Resources to prompt more conversation: Books for preschoolers about television
    • Creating media with your child: A few ideas

Comments? Questions? Suggestions? Please comment below, or reach me on twitter at @rchains.

2 Comments on “Early Media Literacy

  1. I think that preschool is such a fun and good idea for our children to participate in! I like how with this one that kids are taught about advertisement and what the motive is. I think if they start at a young age knowing the truth and that it’s not 100% real, maybe that will help them more when they’re adults as well.

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