November 21st marks World Television Day, as chosen by the United Nations in 1996. Naturally, my first reaction is to want to celebrate this day – I love television. TV has been a big part of our lives for a long time, but it has changed a lot since my children (and maybe even yours) were younger. It’s certainly changed since I was a kid.
Parents, you may be aware that Media Literacy Week is October 24-28 and Digital Citizen Day is October 26, but we should talk about digital media literacy all year round. We are raising kids who are going to be so much better at using media for (hopefully) good; for their education, careers, community giving and passions. It’s moving quickly and we are trying to keep up.
“Do you know this meme?”
One of my kids once asked me that, many years ago, as they were discovering memes on the internet. They asked it as a simple question, but I couldn’t help but pause at their inquiry. It was a hugely popular meme – I have been online for many years, and I know many of us in my (ahem) age group use memes a lot (I’m sometimes referred to as an Xennenial, born in 1980, also called an elder millennial apparently. I think sometimes I’m considered Gen X too). We love memes!
It’s time to buy a smartphone for my youngest (who is only a few months away from being 14 years old). While we know there are considerations and conversations needed around the use of phones, safety, apps, privacy and other responsibilities when owning a phone, we also know the time is right.
Screen time is a common topic for parents to try and manage today. Are we allowing too much? How do we make it safe? We will ask our friends and fellow parents for their thoughts or advice or learn tips from resources (like MediaSmarts!) to help us navigate this new aspect of parenting. When I was my kids’ age, we were just loading Netscape 2.0 onto our computers, and we’d check our ICQ messages before putting in a VHS to watch a movie or playing some Super Mario RPG. The online world is so different now.
Recently in my Facebook memories, a photo from years ago appeared. In the caption, I had written about how I was telling the kids they couldn’t spend their summer on their screens and that in reply, my eldest, likely about 10 years old at the time, pulled out his recorder from school to give an impromptu concert. The photo I shared was a picture of him playing it. I suspect, based on my post, that I not only appreciated his reply to my statement (as sarcastic as it may have been), but that they did, in fact, end up with plenty of screen time.
For generations, Star Wars has captured the hearts and imaginations of so many. Parents can now share the past stories with our own kids, and experience new ones together as new media from the Star Wars universe, like comics, television shows and more movies come to life.
I have teens, but up until recently they didn’t have social media accounts (although, I suppose Discord may count as one).
They hadn’t had much interest in the past, other than a few requests for Snapchat and Instagram that came and went almost as quickly as they were mentioned. But recently, my eldest asked again about Instagram and through conversations together it seemed like the logical time to get one.
Studies have shown that communicating the scientific consensus on a topic can be a helpful strategy in the fight against misinformation. For example, a 2015 study found that “emphasizing the medical consensus about (childhood) vaccine safety is likely to be an effective pro-vaccine message.”