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.  

When I started to notice the headlines that the final episode of the popular PBS children’s cartoon Arthur was soon to be airing, I couldn’t help but be slightly overcome with emotion.  

Parents could be forgiven for thinking that our children are born media literate. Kids take to digital devices like the proverbial ducks to water, quickly becoming expert at finding the videos and games they want, and it’s a rare baby shower that doesn’t feature Elsa or Elmo in one form or another.

Rebecca Stanisic

It has been a challenging and stressful time for many of us, especially for those who live here in Ottawa and were in areas recently affected by the convoy. For many, the occupation meant concerns about safety, noise, increased anxiety and more. These effects have also been felt by our children.

Finding programming that the entire family enjoys, with kids at all ages, can sometimes be difficult. When the kids were little, it was great when we found a cartoon that we all enjoyed. The same challenge has continued as the kids have gotten older. With preteens and teens, their television tastes change (I have a child who loves a good fantasy action show or movie, and another who much prefers comedy). However, we have discovered one type of programming we all enjoy: reality shows. Especially those with a competitive element to them (although transformative TV is popular, too). 

Guest post by Amil Niazi, cultural critic, writer and showrunner for CBC’s Pop Chat.

This is a transcript of a presentation by Amil Niazi on October 28, 2021 as part of MediaSmarts Presents The Walrus Talks: Our Digital Lives (a Media Literacy Week event).

As your kids grow older, their gift requests may start to look a lot different than when they were younger. While they once circled all the toys in the holiday catalogues that arrived at the door, now they are sending parents text messages or Google Docs with links to their wish list items.

father daughter tablet holidaysMany families have media traditions around the holidays – whether that’s watching A Charlie Brown Christmas together or staging a Mario Kart tournament on New Year’s Day. It’s great to make media a family activity, and it’s also an opportunity to co-view with your kids.

If you have children who have access to a phone and the ability to text, you may be venturing into a completely new area of communication with them. Have you noticed emoji replies? Or abbreviated statements? GIF-only responses or memes that you have to Google to understand? You aren’t alone.

So what should parents make of this?  

Matthew JohnsonThey say the future comes when you aren’t looking. This Media Literacy Week, we are reflecting on how the pandemic has changed how we interact with media and each other. Certainly a few years ago, not many of us could have imagined we’d be spending a fair portion of our lives doing video chats, which were considered obsolete and mostly reserved for keeping in touch with friends and family far away.

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