Compared to previous generations, today’s students’ attention spans have to get through the various media they encounter in their daily lives. From the news reports their parents watch to the Tiktok videos their friends share in school, they can be exposed to it at a young age. Here are tips on how to help students be media savvy.

What is Media Education?

Media is defined as a plural word that refers to all the “agencies of mass communication.” This means that it refers to any type of communication we use to deliver a message to others in our daily lives. Media education, on the other hand, is studying these messages and giving awareness to how people act and react in their daily lives.

Why is it important?

Including media education in your curriculum is important due to the following reasons:

  • Improve their critical thinking skills – looking through the hidden messages in media is a great critical thinking exercise.
  • Enable more interactive learning – teaching them about the effect of media allows you to make use of them to make more engaging content for the classroom.
  • Spot the media’s point-of-view – gives your students a way to understand a media’s message through its intended receiver.

How to Teach Media Education

Here’s my list of activities that you can do in your classroom to spread media awareness:

1) Give them questions to think about while browsing

Ask them to always keep a certain set of questions in mind while looking through media. For example, if it’s an influencer ad for a makeup brand, let them go through the following questions: “Does it have the same effect on my skin as the model does?” “Do I have to buy this makeup?” “Why would I buy this makeup?”

2) Have compare-contrast activities

These activities involve comparing the situations depicted in media and in real life. For example, you can show your students an advertisement of a cleaning cloth and compare how well it cleaned in a science experiment.

3) Hold discussions on the differences of what’s on media and what’s happening in reality

Aside from the demonstration above, you can also discuss stereotypes discussed in media. You can get it from popular shows, movies, or cartoons.

4) Show them what algorithms and media interactions mean for them

Most digital media involve algorithms that track your interactions with posts and search results in order to recommend other media. For example, if one of your students always watched a certain gaming Youtuber, Youtube tends to recommend his older videos or other creators playing the same games as that Youtuber.

5) Warn them of dubious and materialistic ads

This is related to the previous tip on comparing stereotypes in media. For example, if influencers dress a certain way, encourage the wearing of make-up, your students might feel uncomfortable that they aren’t. Advise them that these messages are intended to get more people to BUY but you don’t have to follow through their suggestions.

6) Have a trivia quiz around which posts are safe or not

As a way to make media education more interactive, hold a trivia quiz on recent media you can find. You can ask your students to judge whether it is a safe message or not. An alternate quiz would be to have the fastest person to find the hidden message of the media.

7) Introduce them to language the media use

You can form vocabulary lists centered on certain media stereotypes or what words they use to introduce a certain product. For example, you can teach them words such as “clear,” “plump,” and “brightening” when viewing media around skincare.

8) Have critical-thinking activities after watching their favorite cartoon

As an icebreaker, let your students watch an episode of a cartoon. Then, ask them questions on what they learned and what the characters were trying to say.

9) Teach them how to approach sensitive media posts

Sometimes, your students might encounter a post that contains sensitive content. To prepare them, teach them how to report its sensitive nature to the site they are viewing it on and find ways to hide such content in the future. That way, they can remember what to do and avoid having unpleasant experiences while watching or seeing anything.

10) Play a game using logos of famous brands

Brands are one of the many symbols that are used in media to identify themselves as a company providing for a product or service. Make it a fun, engaging topic of discussion by letting your students guess as many companies as they can. After that, you can continue talking about how each company handles their advertisements and how they present themselves.

It is important that your students understand the various media they see everyday. As young as they are now, now is the time to learn about harmful or misleading messages they encounter in the media. To avoid this, having an appropriate plan in media education as part of your curriculum is a great step towards having well-informed adults of tomorrow.