Children and the media


Advice and strategies to help your children read

April 01, 2001

Whether it's Rocket the Wonder Dog in a commercial, Nike Air shoes in a magazine advertisement, or Tony the Tiger touting the wonders of Frosted Flakes on TV, messages children see on a daily basis can influence their lives. Educating children about these messages is an effective antidote to media overload and teaches them to think critically and creatively about information they receive through airwaves, in print and on the World Wide Web. Some messages try to get them to buy, but others actually shape their views about violence, drinking, smoking and sex, according to the January issue of AAP News, the newsmagazine of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Here are its guidelines:

Find an advertisement and look for clues with your child to answer these questions: What is the product being advertised? How is the maker trying to get you to buy or want the product? For example:

Does it suggest that people will like you more if you buy the product?

Will you feel left out if you don't have the product?

Does it suggest that using the product will bring you adventure, fun, money or success?

Do you think that not having the product will make a difference in your life?

Do you know anything about the product that the advertisement is not telling you? (Discuss health dangers, hidden costs, assembly required).

Discuss the persuasive techniques used in advertising to discourage your child from treating advertising messages as facts.


Help your child distinguish the program from the commercial. Oftentimes for young children, the commercial is an extension of the show, especially if favorite characters are in the advertisement. Have your child jump up whenever there is a commercial and sit back down when it's over.

Read "Arthur's TV Trouble" by Marc Brown. This amusing picture book gives parents a good lead into discussions about truth in advertising.

View TV shows and Web sites with your child and discuss what you see.


Zillions Online: Consumer Reports to Kids (www.zillions. org) is an organization that seeks to help kids make informed and independent consumer decisions by helping them learn to question and evaluate products and services.

"Screen Smarts: A Family Guide to Media Literacy" by Gloria DeGaetano discusses the effects of a media-centered world on a child.

-- Susan Rapp

Village Reading Center

Celebrate National Library Week

From today through April 7, help celebrate National Library Week. Half a century ago, the National Book Committee was formed through the efforts of the American Library Association and American Book Publishers. They wanted to boost reading as a leisure-time activity competitive to television and rock 'n' roll. They figured that a nation motivated to read would in turn support the library as a repository for both books and, nowadays, the latest information technology.

This year's theme is "@ your library."

-- Athima Chansanchai

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