How do you engage in media literacy education?

This article is part of Media Education

Everyone has different views on (media) education. The question isn’t how you should do media education, but how it can be done. These 5 tips will help you make your children media literate in your own way, as a parent, family member, friend, or professional

Remember things weren’t that different back then

It might seem like children today grow up in a completely different world to when you were growing up. We can’t completely deny it: the internet and social media have turned things on its head. But as a child, you would also have experienced lots of changes: for example, the first computers or mobile phones. Your parents probably didn’t really know how to slot those into your education either. And you didn’t turn out too badly, did you?

Trust yourself

A skin, a snap, a streak: maybe you’ve never heard of any of them. Or you might think: what on earth can I teach children about Instagram or vlogs, when I have no idea how they work? More than you think! Children and teenagers might seem like naturals in the online world, but as an adult, you have both feet solidly on the ground in the real world. That’s exactly why you are the best partner in crime to take youngsters by the hand. Don’t hesitate to get stuck into media literacy topics, show a healthy dose of interest in your children’s world, and occasionally lend them your critical glasses.

Trust your gut

Should an 8-year-old have a smartphone? Is it okay to post pictures of toddlers on social media? One says yes, the other is vehemently opposed. Media education is not black and white: opinions can differ, and that’s okay. Search for information, listen to others, but also trust your own gut. Are you involved in the media education of someone else’s children? Be open to the parents’ vision and respect their ideas.

Focus on the positives

It can be tempting to think that it’s best to keep children away from all those new media for as long as possible. Why not just read a book or play in the garden? Fewer risks, just as fun. Sure, but remember that media also have plenty of good sides. They help you stay in touch with others, are an invaluable source of information, and you can learn a lot from them. And digital media have become an inextricable part of young people’s lives. By shielding them from those media, they lack the opportunity to learn valuable skills and may run into problems later. 

Clear rules and agreements

How children handle media is not one-way traffic. Clear rules are definitely necessary for young children; the older they get, the more room there is for dialogue. Think their gaming behaviour is getting out of hand? Worried about selfies that are a bit too sexy? Throw your doubts on the table and talk about them. With a bit of luck, you’ll come to a solution that makes everyone feel good. And maybe the child or teenager themselves has their doubts about the number of hours you spend on your smartphone? You might even learn something yourself.

What is media education?

What does ‘media education’ actually mean? Is it a job reserved for parents? And why is it so important? Discover everything you need to know.

Published on 22 February 2024