Celebrating a birthday this week is Marshall McLuhan, philosopher and media visionary! Mr. McLuhan coined phrases like “global village” and “The medium is the message.” He was also the inspiration for our book/app “Hey, I’m A Story!”
If we’re honest, this amazing thinker should be on the radar for any parent of a 21st century, digital native kid. There are so many big questions children are itching to ask about the stories information swirling around them every day, and learning to be media literate is very much a survival skill.
If you’re looking to start a conversation, here’s some food for thought:
- Storytelling is such a huge part of who we are as human beings, and it’s been happening for thousands and thousands of years. Take a trip through history, and introduce your little thinker to all the different ways we’ve learned to share ideas. Chat about different kinds of media, as well as the technology that has supported them.
- Explore the difference between fact and opinion. Stories can (and often do) contain at least a little of both, and it’s important to be able to tell one from the other.
- Take note of how stories can change when passed from one person to another. Think of how the same story can be received in many different ways by many people when broadcasted through media.
- Wonder a little about who might be a good, reliable source of information, and who might be leaving things out or changing things. What makes someone an expert or an authority? Who gets to decide which stories get told, and how they’re told?
There’s no shortage of examples and inspiration when you talk about media with a little thinker! It’s a fascinating and accessible topic for any age, and it’s so important that all children be aware of both the quantity and quality of information with which they’re already contending. Best of all, taking a closer look at media is an excellent way to sharpen critical thinking skills.