Dr. Jennifer W. Shewmaker

Parent, Teacher, Activist

Now what do I do?

If you’re reading this blog, then you’re probably interested in understanding what kinds of messages the media is sending and how it impacts children and adolescents. From my perspective, there are 5 things both parents and kids need to do in order to understand the messages and then respond to them. First, we need to recognize that media images and narratives are often sexualized and send messages about what kinds of things make us valuable. Second, we need to plan how we’re going to approach media. Third, we need to talk about both media messages and our own value systems. Fourth, we take action to become voices of transformation in our world. And fifth, we build community and find people who we can cooperate with in our shared values.

I’ve organized my posts into these 5 categories to help you find information more readily. I recommend beginning with recognizing if you haven’t read a lot on this topic before, and then moving through the categories of your interest.

Here are some practical tips for helping children become world changers:

1. Talk about sexualized media messages with children. They see them and they are being impacted. Don’t be afraid to point things out to them and talk with them about why you think it’s inappropriate. See some of the Talking posts for more details about how to do this.

2. Speak up and encourage children and adolescents to do so as well. Whether it’s a song on the radio, a product in your local store, or a dance being taught at their local dance school, when something offensive enters the lives of kids that you care about, let your voice be heard. Encourage the children and adolescents in your life to do the same. Whether or not it has an immediate impact, you are all practicing the behavior patterns of world changers by standing up for what you believe in. The posts on Planning and Acting will help you in this area.

3. Find community. It’s not easy to recognize, plan, talk, and act without the support of others who are like-minded. You may not agree on every single point, but you are talking, questioning, and helping each other stand up when you see things happening in the lives of children that you consider wrong.  The posts on Cooperating will give you some practical guidance on how to find and nurture community.

The more we know and look at the media with a critical eye, the better we are able to respond to the messages that clash with our own value systems. Joining in community, we move forward as a group to transform the world in which we live.

2 comments on “Now what do I do?

  1. Beth Wade
    February 16, 2011

    I love having the media’s negative messages pointed out, but it seems that most parents need a list of positive responses to those messages to make a difference. Hints to parent effectivly or with common sense in response to negative media messages, would be helpful additions to each posting, I think.

    • Jennifer Shewmaker
      February 21, 2011

      Check out the “What’s out there that’s good” posts. Also, most posts have some kind of recommendation for how to respond effectively.

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