Kids today are exposed to a vast array of media one lakh in digit, from video games and YouTube videos to TV shows and movies. And while adults may be uneasy about this media saturation, the data says that kids are getting along just fine. In fact, studies have shown that kids who are given access to these interactive forms of media actually become more fluent with reading and writing in the process!
In this post we’re going to explore both sides of the argument, “Should children be allowed access to certain types of media?” on a case-by-case basis. We’ll first define what ‘media’ actually is before moving on to video games, YouTube videos, TV shows, movies/TV series/series in general.
“Media” is an amalgamation of two Latin words, “Medium” and “Distans”, meaning ‘The thing that is between.’ In the context of this discussion, we’re referring to a unified collection of media sources which can be transmitted to our minds through oral, visual or auditory channels.
Here’s a list of media sources in which children might be interested:
Television/Series (not including news)
Movies/TV series/series (not including news)
Books (textbooks and novels)
Writing in General (including typing)
2. Video Games
We’ve already discussed children accessing media at large in the first article of this series. Let’s now see how video games might interact with media literacy in kids as well.
Role-Playing Video Games (RPGs)
Role-Playing Games are video games that give the player a choice, or ‘role,’ of what to do in the game’s narrative. These choose-your-own adventure type games can be very intricate and immersive, “the user assumes the identity of an individual within a story which most often involves journey to some kind of goal… these narratives may involve multiple plots and characters working towards a common goal” (Newman, 2010). The game will usually have a story-line, characters, and a goal to accomplish. Role-Playing Video Games (RPGs) can be very rewarding for kids, with many kids getting hooked on them very quickly. In addition to video games being fun and rewarding, it’s also important to note that children who play RPG games may actually become more receptive and fluent with reading later on in life.
3. YouTube Videos
Nowadays, most people have a YouTube account, and whether you’re an adult or a kid, watching YouTube videos is a habit as old as the internet. It’s easy to simply log into your own YouTube account and watch millions of other people’s videos. YouTube Videos are short (although some can be rather long), and often focused on a specific subject matter that interests the viewer. There’s also no age restrictions on individual YouTubers – anyone can create a video for everyone to see, which means there are virtually no limits to what creators can do in terms of content and language. YouTube Videos can be either educational or fun-oriented, but they are most often created to entertain people in some way.
4. TV Shows
T.V. shows are often seen as the epitome of ‘media,’ but that definition doesn’t necessarily mean that kids should be forever barred from watching them. After all, it’s not like most T.V. shows are made with a specific purpose in mind to educate or teach us anything – they’re made to entertain us, after all! In fact, some research has shown that T.V. shows have a positive effect on kids and on child development, even if they don’t necessarily teach anything about media literacy in general (e.g., Kuss, 2009).
Movies and movie series are a great example of how media literacy can be used to make sense of the world around us, as well as some of its more interesting characters. In fact, “studies have shown that individuals with higher levels of media literacy tend to be less susceptible to television violence and negative portrayals of adolescents” (Larson & Thoma, 2000). Margaret Larson and Curtis Thoma’s study showed that individuals with higher levels of media literacy were able to make sense of the world through movies, which has ties in common with the concept of Media Literacy.
6. Writing in General
Writing is the general method which we use to express what we think and feel through words. Writing can be used in a lot of different ways, including letters, essays, and stories. Writing by hand vs. on a computer also has some implications regarding Media Literacy (which will be discussed later on in this article). Overall writing can be used as a powerful tool to express ourselves and to share our ideas with people who might not otherwise have access to them.
Media Literacy is an important part of modern childhood which should be encouraged rather than discouraged by parents/guardians/adults in general. After all, if our goal is to get kids to read more and be better educated, Media Literacy can be a pathway to that end. “Parents are searching for quality media in an age of excess” (Kuss, 2009), and modern kids are being bombarded with media every day. The best thing we can do as adults is understand how Media Literacy works in relation to such media sources so that we can help our children become more fluent with media literacy and the world around them!