Debates over children and media use are nothing new, but the technologies by which children primarily interact with media have changed significantly. Most guidelines related to “screen time” were developed when television was the dominant media, but new technologies are making us question the value of older research. In its most recent report on the subject, the American Academy of Pediatrics makes reference to “important positive and prosocial effects of media use,” and a call for expanding media education programs in schools. While more dedicated media education in schools would be great, it is little more than a pipe dream in the current climate of low budgets and high-stake tests.
It is therefore incumbent on individual educators to help students interact with media in ways that are critical and empowering. We cannot limit this work to media that we have selected for quality or educational value. We should look for ways to engage critical thinking around students’ everyday media uses, whether through planned projects and lessons or informal engagement.