What the difference?
Media Literacy Week is November 6-10, 2017.
Screen-Free Week is April 30-May 6, 2018.
Both ambitious concepts. But I like one better.
There are practical reasons that a “Screen-Free Week” is naive. Think of our cars. Think of our online courses. Think of bars and restaurants. Think of the orthodontist’s office. Think of Skyping with my college freshman from his dorm room. Think of ST LOUIS CARDINALS OPENING DAY. Even if I was devoted to a screen-free week, and some significant breaking news happened, I would turn on the news in a heartbeat.
We have to get away from the idea that screens are inherently bad. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a stickler for no phones at the dinner table and I have forced my family to play cards and board games so that we don’t all sink into our screens in the evenings. But I also love sitting down with them for a Lord of the Rings marathon or a good Silicon Valley binge.
Is there material on screens that is harmful? You bet. Are there some people who consume too much via screens? Of course. The idea behind Screen-Free Week is noble.
But I prefer a different mindset when it comes to media consumption: instead of calling it all harmful, let’s analyze the hell out of it.
Think of it this way: ignoring something that’s potentially harmful doesn’t necessarily help. Why not learn about it, analyze it, evaluate it, create it, study it and enjoy it?
I’ve often said “We can’t outlaw the media, we can’t outrun it…but we can OUTSMART it.”
That is what Media Literacy Week is all about. We can’t hide from screens, they are ubiquitous. We CAN, however, educate our students and children about why we are shown what we’re shown, the economic structures of the systems that deliver the media to us, and encourage them to ask questions of their media.
Check out these key concepts from NAMLE. Media literacy makes kids smarter.
Think of it this way: Don’t give the kid a Ferrari and then tell them they can’t drive it.
Take them to Driver’s Ed.
And then watch them travel the world.