My high school friend calls the other day explaining that she caught her eleven-year-old in his room looking at pornography online. I nearly busted out laughing but of course, in my grandiose kindness, I decided not to, although it probably would have been fine at this point in our lives. I expressed empathy and that for me it was really difficult to accept when I stumbled across a similar situation, which immediately opened the floodgates of a very long discussion of what to do and all that mom, parent stuff that is very boring I promise. Unless of course, you are experiencing this same thing, if so please check out other posts that may be useful in my blog.
Back to my friend, she is hysterical at this point, blaming herself, and that she isn’t a man, and has no idea what to do, and so on. We began discussing digital medical literacy skills, or should I say, I began discussing such skills because at that time she was not excited about such tasks that she would be responsible for and besides “we didn’t sign up for this.” This is our favorite cliche in times like this!
She knows me quite well, so our conversation went something like this, “well honey, you just took my phrase, what do you need me for?” We continued our conversation about a variety of ways to protect him, hold him accountable and discuss this current event that will likely not be the last. Why, because we must continue to teach our children to be literate and savvy when it comes to media in all forms and the intent of the content even more important, and even more important, how to navigate the digital world we live in (Creative Commons, 2017).
The mind map below gives you an idea, and this is by far no where inclusive of all the forms of digital media to instruct young people on.
With school-age children, like the 10-year-old above, parents must step up. For those whose hands are already in the messy game of pre-teen/young teen-rearing years, keep making the connections between the evil side of digital media and how it relates to their “real life.” Media in various forms intends to persuade and use their audience to exploit and oftentimes, “media messages can range from overt statements to vague expressions of cultural values…and that the United States—in contrast to other nations where media are held in check—has encouraged an independent commercial press and thus given the powers of propaganda and persuasion to the public (Starr, 2004)” (Creative Commons, 2017).
Yet like any form of communication the impression, viewpoint, feeling toward communication, whether true or not, good or bad, can result in communication that hurts or helps, that provides useful information or uses deception to create fear, and is a form of bullying.
Bullying remains and will likely remain a way for those hurting to attempt to channel their anger towards those who serve a victim role. These roles can be interchangeable and formed in the home – victimizer or victim. Put well, being a victim is commonly seen as the antecedent to becoming victimizer (U.S.D.O.J. website).
As we shift our focus and understanding to the role we each play in our realm of influence, we must take into consideration the shift in media and the ways media has influenced society throughout the decades, how the roles have changed, and who has the real power.
First, to begin, the real power can rest in the parents hands, we can use our hands to build our house as an old Proverb puts it rather than our hands tear it down. Take a look at some of the differences today (Creative Commons, 2017).
For example, and put well by Jolls & WIlson (2014), “we shifted from ’talk about media’ to ‘experience production’ with tape recorders), printers, varied tools” to now, and in comparison, there is a matrix, literally, of information at our fingertips”.
Then: Interactive Experience
Now: Digital Media Skills a Must
Practically speaking the dominant role that digital media has on society and culture is here to stay. The power and influence will continue to evolve and will look different with respect to each people group and government or agency. Second, in comparison to the former role of media, as a more interactive experience, rather, digital media, especially, requires less interaction and is completely dependent on the end user.
In today’s digital age you can be whatever role you want. In the case of my friends son, this momma just needs to become literate but also provide the instruction and information her son needs to make logical decisions that consider others and himself, whatever that would like for that family.
Theoretically, parents spend the most time with their child/children and have more opportunities for “teachable moments” than do educators, especially on a one-on-one basis (Scheibe & Rogow, 2011). Certainly, we are familiar with the idea, and teachable moments help learners see the connection between logical and humanity. They are moments you grab when they happen, and in that very moment, teach the value, moral, characteristic, or personal life lesson that connects to the way the learner is influenced by media and especially social forms. Catch them when they are 10!
Parents: What Role Will You Play ❓
Literacy in digital media is no longer an option for parents; and in my professional opinion it is the community as a whole that when presented with a teachable moment with another human must own it and the responsibility attached. It is clear that we are imperfectly perfect parents for our given child/children in whatever capacity. In fact, we did sign up for this, we signed up for this when we became Mom or Dad, respectively. If you were wondering about my friend and her son, her son is a successful, married, father who survived the teen years and his digitally illiterate mother. This is a call to action: what role will you play?
B.A.D. Media. You Tube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCpDyEtoWgY&list=LL&index=10
Creative Commons. (2017). Understanding media and culture: An introduction to mass communication. University of Minnesota Libraries Publishing: Online.
Jolls, T., & Wilson, C. (2014). The Core Concepts: Fundamental to Media Literacy Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. Journal of Media Literacy Education, 6(2), 68-78. Retrieved from https://digitalcommons.uri.edu/jmle/vol6/iss2/6
Scheibe, C. L., & Rogow, F. (2011). The teacher’s guide to media literacy: Critical thinking in a multimedia world. SAGE Publications.
United States Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs. https://www.ojp.gov/ncjrs/virtual-library/abstracts/interchangeable-roles-victim-and-victimizer
What say you?