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.
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.
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.
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).
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.