What we see – and don’t see – in media affects how we view reality. Media works can be imagined either as mirrors that reflect an audience’s own experience, windows that give them access to experiences they otherwise wouldn’t have known, or in some cases both.
Canada’s Broadcasting Act, last amended in 1991, outlines industry guidelines for portrayal of diversity.
In this lesson, students learn about the ways in which news coverage of an event or issue can be biased, focusing on the aspects of the medium and industry that can lead to bias. They read an article that examines the coverage of mental illness in the news and then participate in an interactive activity that lets them compose their own article. Finally, students find and analyze a recent news story on a mental health topic and write a letter either praising or critiquing it.
Students begin by viewing a slideshow that explores common stereotypes of mental illness and mental illness treatment in media. They read a prepared analysis of the portrayal of mental illness in a TV show popular with teens, then in a small group analyze another text of their choice. Finally, students create an annotated version of a scene or excerpt from a text in which they analyze and evaluate its portrayal of mental illness.
Indigenous people remain highly stereotyped in most mass media, in ways that are sometimes less remarked upon than stereotypes of other groups. This section examines how Indigenous people are represented, and participate, in various media and how media education can help both Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth understand the impact of stereotyped representations.
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.
Level: Grade K to 3
About the author: Matthew Johnson, Director of Education, MediaSmarts
Duration: 10-15 minutes per activity
This lesson is part of USE, UNDERSTAND & ENGAGE: A Digital Media Literacy Framework for Canadian Schools.
One of the barriers to youth pushing back against prejudice is not wanting to over-react, particularly if they feel their peers were just ‘joking around.’ Humour, however, can often be a cover for intentional bullying and prejudice. In this lesson, students analyze media representations of relational aggression, such as sarcasm and put-down humour, then consider the ways in which digital communication may make it harder to recognize irony or satire and easier to hurt someone’s feelings without knowing it. Students then consider how humour may be used to excuse prejudice and discuss ways of responding to it.