Avatars and Body Image

In this lesson students are introduced to the concept of “avatars” and share their experiences creating and playing avatars in video games and virtual worlds. They then create avatars using a program that is intentionally limited in terms of available body types and gender markers, first creating an avatar of their own gender and then of the opposite gender, and then discuss the program and relate it to representations of gender and body image in games and virtual worlds and in other media. Students then create avatars using a much more flexible version of the program and compare that experience to the more limited version. Finally, students use the more versatile program to create avatars that represent how they see themselves and how they would like others to see them online and reflect on the choices that went into creating them.

English

Digital media such as the Internet and video games have become increasingly important in the lives of children and youth. Even when young people are consuming other media, such as TV, music and movies, they are likely to be doing it through the Internet. As well, nearly all the media they consume, from TV shows to toys, have Web pages, virtual worlds, video games or other digital spinoffs associated with them.

Representing Ourselves Online

In this lesson, students talk about dressing up and taking on identities that are similar to or different from them. They are then introduced to the idea of avatars as a kind of “dressing up” inside video games and consider the ways in which the technical, generic and aesthetic limitations on avatar creation and customization affect their choices and their ability to represent themselves online.

English

Queer people have been involved in producing their own media for as long as alternative media has existed. This landscape has traditionally been dominated by print media such as zines (small-circulation, generally low-cost, publications) and pamphlets or queer film, but with the advent of the electronic age and cheaper and more accessible electronic devices for production, there’s been an explosion of queer-produced media of all kinds. The following section explores the ways that queer people have sought to claim space for themselves within media and culture.

Video Games - Lesson

In this lesson, students are introduced to the ways video games may impact their mental and physical health. Students start with a reflection on their use of video games, specifically the amount of time they play and the role of games in their lives. This is followed by a class activity based on several key questions relating to the positive and/or negative effects video games may have on our health. Finally, students will be given an opportunity to debate key claims on the health effects of video games.

English

First Person - Lesson

In this lesson students consider diversity representation in video games by identifying examples of diversity in the games they play, comparing their findings to statistics on diversity in the Canadian population.

English

Talking to Kids about Racial Stereotypes - Tip Sheet

Racial stereotypes abound on television, and children’s programming is no exception. The turban-wearing bad guy, the brainy Asian, and the Black basketball whiz are just a few of the stereotypes reinforced in children’s cartoons, films and TV shows. Spotting these stereotypes is often difficult for children; to them, the tomahawk-wielding Indian or the Asian karate expert is a familiar, easily-understood and often funny character. So how do you help children understand these images for what they are – oversimplified, generalizations?

Talking to Kids about Media Violence - Tip Sheet

Talking to kids about violence in the media they consume – television, movies, video games, music and the Internet – can help them put media violence into perspective and perhaps diffuse some of its power. 

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