Media literacy | Media education

Have you ever wondered how many hours of your life you spend with the television, your mobile phone or on the internet?

Do you think that your level of exposure to media messages has no effect on you and your young children?

Think about this: what are the thousands of media advertisements we see every day, doing to our minds? (It only tells us that we need things to look or feel or be better.  Be thinner, have a better car, eat nice fast food, wear these clothes and people will like you more, have more sex to feel better …)

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The  mass media include any carrier or channel that sends a message from one person or group to many people, called audiences.  We refer to mass communicators and mass audiences. Radio and newspapers, film and television, posters and billboards, and the Internet are all media. So are books, banners, videos, clothing and other branded merchandise. It also refers to advertisements and marketing, because it contains a message from the brand to the “markets” or buyers.

And then of course, there are the social media.  These are Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, and others.

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These mass media need a lot of money – huge amounts! – to do their jobs, to bring us our media content, and to stay alive. As long as we are buying, they are doing great.

They get this money from advertising and sales – in other words, from us and thousands of companies.  I love the media more than many people.  But I do think it is important to act in a critical, thinking way with the content that we consume through the media.

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The best subject and field in all of the world: popular culture and the media.

Media literacy is exactly the same as a healthy diet for your body.  It means that we need to separate the junk, negative messages from the positive, healthy content.  As your body will get sick of an overload of unhealthy take-away food all the time, the same happens with our minds and thoughts.

The mass media and effects are probably one of the most researched and studied topics in the world, precisely because the media are so powerful.  It has control over our ways of thinking and acting, for example the stereotyping and generalizations we form.

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There are many fantastic movements – like Miss Representation – that opposes the stereotypical ways in which women are portrayed in the media (Miss Representation – stereotypical images of women in the media).  Music videos carry strong messages to young girls about how they should look and act to conform.  Luckily, many magazines and films are slowly getting to the point where women are not portrayed as thin, barely clothed, perfect, photo-shopped, sexy (and hungry).

Look at this beautiful award-winning video by Dove about a mother’s love and bodies Dove how beautiful a mother’s body is, or this stunning advert, also for Dove, about how girls get stereotyped Dove Like a Girl.

Romantic love is another myth that is propagated by the media: if you are not in love, having sex and being romantic, your life sucks.  Nine out of every ten popular songs state the same – that you are happier when you are in love and are an object of desire.

Young children and teenagers are the best targets for the media, because they often have a lot of buying power through their parents, and because they are impressionable.  I have done my doctoral study about media literacy in South Africa, and love doing talks, workshops, speeches and training in Media Literacy and Media Education.

This link goes to a video about how children are victims of marketing and advertising since the moment of birth Advertising and marketing to kids.

I am totally passionate to educate people about the effects of the media on society. I seriously want to spread the gospel of media education and awareness.  Even though I love the media, all of them, deeply and dearly.

Contact me for more information on this fantastic topic!