Apr 11

Media literacy flak jackets

I have been thinking about the push on media literacy, which I believe to be important. Several studies on children and advertising have recommended that scepticism (which children only seem to pick up as they get older) isn’t enough. Children need to be educated on the nature of advertising, its intent and then given counter-arguments. Some have suggested warnings and announcements to alert children before ads are aired.

Not bad defence tactics.

But… if we were shooting at our children, would we be recommending they wear flak jackets? Or would we, like, just, you know… stop shooting them?

4 thoughts on “Media literacy flak jackets

  1. Andy Latham

    From a moral point of view it makes such clear sense to just get rid of advertising aimed at any section of the population who cannot understand it.

    However, if you get rid of it, who pays for the shows?

  2. Jay Post author

    Well that’s the big question, Andy! But, you know, even being someone who would be massively impacted by something like that, I think that question comes after. If something is right or wrong, the decision should be made on that alone.

    There are many answers though, some of which require a pretty big perception shift. The first, which I’m a firm believer of, comes from government/taxpayer support. Given that children do watch television, I think it’s too important to be handed over to commercial global markets – in terms of what’s best for a child, that’s a massive conflict of interest. And I believe that local content is incredibly important. CBeebies works on license fees for example.

    But I also think the world could benefit from the idea that we pay for our content. And our children’s content. Now that’s an idea in complete opposition to the way the world is going, with ad-supported TV, illegal downloads and the perception that entertainment is free. Nevertheless, I actually think that’s ideal.

    There are other options. They’re not easy. But then I think the idea of ad-supported children’s television is entirely flawed anyway and that industry is not in a good place. I don’t think it’s going to improve until it changes.

  3. Andy Latham

    Yeah you’re right of course – the welfare of the kids has to come before the people making the shows.

    One thing I particularly don’t like is shows that are built around selling products. They’re basically extended adverts that make it even harder for the child to figure out that they are being flogged something. So many of the shows I watched as a kid are of this kind and I had no idea at the time that this is what they were. He-Man and Mighty Max immediately spring to mind but there are tons more. Having said that, I got enjoyment from watching them and I don’t think there are any lasting effects from this barrage of advertising, so is it wrong?

    Of course that question is probably a flawed one as these shows that I’m recalling were probably viewed by me somewhere between the ages of 5 and 12. I can remember very little of my viewing habits at a younger age than this. Although Button Moon and Pob are the first TV shows I can remember watching.


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