Talking With Teens About Media Literacy
Give your teen credit. Approach the discussion believing that your
teen has given some thought to the image on their own. Adolescents may give the
impression that image is everything, but they do look for content. Teenagers believe
that they are independent thinkers who can reach their own conclusions when presented
with the facts.
Be open to learning something yourself. Remember that youth need
to be involved in the discovery of information, not just presented with information.
Remain calm and open minded. We often are triggered to action by
things that offend our own sensibilities of what is right, beautiful, and logical.
If we act on instinct, the outcome is likely to be the opposite of what we intend.
Don’t expect immediate results. If you have not been talking with
your teen on a regular basis, he or she may be suspicious of this new media literacy
information, measuring it against an “authenticity yardstick.” Keep lines of communication
open, even if the first session does not go so well. Allow some space for your teen
to sort out ideas and images for his or her self.
Seize the moment. Incidental opportunities (such as your teen labeling
a program “dumb” after viewing) that come up daily may be used to start enlightening
Talk back to your TV. When appropriate, express opinions about
sexism, racism, and unnecessary violence. Challenge commercials and the way they
try to sell not only products, but attitudes and lifestyles. And, don’t forget to
point out positive portrayals as well.
Insist that media literacy be taught in the schools. Providing
media literacy in the home and the school reinforces what your teens are learning
and gives them more opportunities to practice and perfect their skills.