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How to Get Smart About Watching TV

Slowly but surely media education is reaching schools, and I’m glad Howard Rosenberg gave the subject notice in “Urging Kids to Think for Themselves,” (May 16).

Educational materials such as those produced by Boston-based Continental Cablevision Inc. and Los Angeles’ Center for Media Values can help teachers broach the subject in classrooms. But parents need help too. In teaching media education, it’s become clear to me that to raise media-literate children, we need media-literate parents. To enhance parents’ media literacy, here are some exercises:

* Become aware of your own TV habits. For one week, keep track of all the TV you watch. At the end of the week, analyze how much and what you view. Are you setting a good example for your children?

* When you watch TV, practice identifying strategies used in ads to get you interested in products. Then teach your kids to identify those techniques: jingles, production tricks and emotional appeals.

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* If your kids watch Saturday morning cartoons, try watching. Count how many times people hit, threaten or shoot each other. Ask yourself what moral messages are being communicated.

* Keep a log of a night’s newscast. What are the top stories? Do you consider them the day’s most important events? What is left out?

BARBARA BLISS OSBORN

Los Angeles

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