Saturday, December 7, 2013

My Little Media Book: The ABC's of WWW for Children and Adults

Without a doubt, media and technology have transformed childhood. Today’s children are spending more time with more kinds of screens, at younger ages. A recent study found that children 0-8 years spent an average of 3 hours a day with screens. While video games and cartoons/movies are still uber-popular, Internet has played a major role in the digitalization of their free time. And it is the social aspect of the WWW that draws every young and young-at-heart to it.

Like us, internet-active children are focused on their friends. Among many others, Danah Boyd, a media professor at NYU and a principal researcher at Microsoft, suggests that they use social network websites to connect with people they already know from school, church, activities, etc. They mimic their “offline behavior” online and do the same childish things we used to do back in the days, just using a different platform. So instead of panicking about lost childhood years we, as educators, have a critical role to help them navigate social media safely and intelligently.

Rather than thinking about how we can protect children from the bad things on the Internet, we need to ensure that they are equipped with the tools they need to not only safely navigate the Internet but to benefit from the good it offers. That requires us to think in a different way than we are used to. It is no longer only about protecting them; it is about empowerment and lifelong education so that they can take full advantage of all the new media has to offer. So like we teach children about values like fairness, honesty, and integrity we need to provide them with similar values for the online world.

The media literacy book(let) I created as the final project  does exactly this – it offers a fun and simple way to begin the conversation about the rules of digital media, the benefits of WWW as well as the necessary precautions to ensure a safe environment online. My Little Media Book is intended for internet-active children (the younger the better) and their parents and educators. It covers topics such as online privacy and “netiquette” and provides months-worth of research and resources to further explore the issue. Resources for children include educational online games about social media, online marketing techniques used by advertisers, and online ethics.  Because of the nature of its subject, it is as interactive as a book can get – with a board game inside and a space for notes/drawings.

Selected Resources/Works Cited:

No comments:

Post a Comment