Media Blind

As a parent of a start-up teen, I’m painfully aware of the media’s influence over his view of the world. I’m also in one of those psychological revolving doors where I can see the potential advantages of massive access to information, people, experiences made possible by convergence in the media, but at the same time I have to remind myself that he, like others of his ilk, are media blind.

Children see, hear and interact with media constantly, it’s all around them — and they can’t imagine life away from it. But life does function beyond media — we have towels to hang up, dishes to put away — so when he fails to live up to the demands and routines of our household’s schedules, or protests over things that only teenager could possible appreciate matter and parents ‘ruin’ — pulling the pin on the world of interactive entertainment and human-computer-human mediated communication doesn’t improve the situation. But the pin is more often than not pulled for a while at least in an attempt to reset teen-startup.

While schools have either used ‘scare and filter’ or ’embrace and hope’ strategies — deeply connected to power-belief among a narrow set of individuals, neither has been useful in preparing tweens and teens for today’s media cultures and stratified media communication. As a parent, it seems non-productive to talk about “Peter and Jane” values in a world and arrogant to think I am shaping his media diet in a world of mega-corporations and  ‘everything is awesome’ digitally salivating teachers. Yes I do think media is useful, yes I do work with media, but I can’t even see how today’s media landscape can be compared with the same one two years ago … yet the mass-theatre of conferences and homogonised #edchat seems as media blind as teen-startup.

With no ‘media education’ discipline in the Australian curriculum and therefore no externally valid assessment (read: exam) there is no corresponding ‘key words scheme’ so popular in 70s and 80s literacy methods.

As frustrating as it is to me as a parent, I have to concede my kids are not experiencing any form of planned or well researched information literacy life cycle.

Ignorance and personal growth co-habit the media creating an illusion of what society can and can’t do with technology. The fact a tween can re-create Blenheim Palace in Minecraft tells us almost nothing about missed opportunities, compounding media problems and poor leadership in the rest of society — and maybe that this point.

I was thinking, very early this morning, that “things we like” would be a fantastic title for every educational conference I ever went to for years. There are some good reasons use technology, but there are many more reasons actively create a media literacy program in schools if self-growth, actualisation and empowerment are to be channeled into positive, functional outcomes for kids. Who knows, maybe my teen will eventually realise the ambiguity of a life through glass … or put a towel away from time to time without it having to be a quest-for-loot-deal. Maybe I should just get on board with the ed-tech juggernaut — confusing morning.