For Christmas this year, I decided to skip the meal prep, mall nightmares and cocktail circuit and opted instead to book my family on a seven day, Caribbean cruise (fortunately not a Costa cruise!). Given it was a Christmas sailing, we were pretty much guaranteed a non-stop parade of kids. The thundering hooves down our stateroom hallway short minutes into the trip confirmed my hunch. While my teenagers mostly wanted to lock them up, as a youth researcher I saw unleashed kids as a bonus and was excited at the prospect of viewing my target in the wild. Read more >>
I spent many screen-time hours encouraging my young daughters to watch television with an open mind and think critically about their viewing, especially in recent years with the onslaught of reality shows like Real World, The Bachelor and The Hills. In addition to my annoying reminders and play-by-play while viewing these shows, they’ve also been exposed to many aspects of media coaching from workshops in the classroom to on-set studio visits. Actually, they’ve impressed me with their insightful observations over the years. They do get it and they’ve seen behind the curtain. But I believe there is another looming challenge ahead for parents who want to ensure they are raising truly media savvy viewers—and no one is talking about this yet. Am I the only one concerned about TV cooking shows and their impact on our kids?
Have you ever gone to a film with a friend only to discover that you may as well have been at different movies because your interpretations of the story were so different? This happens because we use our life experiences to make meaning from any text that engages us. Age, gender, race and ethnicity are just some of the lenses that determine our interpretation of a narrative. If you discuss a shared film experience with a young child, you would be surprised at how developmental issues make the child’s movie experience quite different from your own. Having enjoyed the first Stuart Little with my grandson, I invited him to see the sequel. As we found our seats in the theatre he looked over and announced, “You know Grandma, Stuart Little is going to be very glad to see us.” This was an “aha” moment for me because my grandson and I had vastly different experiences with the same movie.
The Canadian Toy Testing Council (CTTC) published its annual Toy Report last month after 6 to 8 weeks of testing by over 220 families and 500 children. After reviewing the list of this year’s Children’s Choice and Best Betaward-winning toys, I was surprised to see that the number of interactive tech toys was smal
l. Interestingly, toys that encourage and facilitate creative thought and imaginative play were the most popular. This year’s selections identify what I believe is a change in values and attitudes by parents and children towards how they wish to spend their entertainment time. Read more >>
I have a confession. I may well be a closet gamer. For years my connection to gaming consisted of telling my teenage son to stop gaming and come for dinner; do your homework; clean up your room…you get the idea. Sure I’d tried to play Xbox with him, Halo to be specific. I spent most of my time in this first-person shooter running the wrong way, staring at my feet or the sky, pressing the wrong buttons, dying (over and over) and making my son laugh hysterically in the process. The dexterity required and the necessity of pressing multiple buttons at the same time in order to shoot, jump, lob a grenade and run were beyond me. True my son had devoted hundreds of hours to this game. His friends played it, and he could play with them online, added incentives that just weren’t there for me. After five or six matches I decided that until I had a thousand spare hours to devote to this, it was a futile exercise.
Then came the iPad. I knew there were games, but never that I’d be sucked in like a raccoon in a dumpster.
Here at the kidsmediacentre we love (and indeed are charged with) researching media and its influence on kids. We’ve recently completed a couple of qualitative exploratory studies for our friends at TVOKids. In one of the studies we asked a group of self-proclaimed, hard-core seven and eight year old gamers about their favourite online destinations and then we sat back and watched the debate unfold. Read more >>
One of the most exciting and motivating parts of teaching in the Children’s Entertainment: Writing, Production and Management Program is the diversity of our students and the vibrancy that it brings to the classroom. These qualities will undoubtedly have an impact as our students disperse into the industry – and for those of us who were involved in designing the program, it’s everything we had hoped for. Read more >>
We’ve got lots to say about kids’ media futures, so we hope you’ll come back often. The “we” I refer to is the kids’ community here at Centennial College’s School of Communications Media and Design in Toronto. The voices you’ll read in this space include the kidsmediacentre director (me!), the oh-so-brilliant coordinator of the Children’s Entertainment Program (Suzanne), our amazing faculty, graduate students, current students, parents, educators, guest “luminaries” and of course kids!
Together, we will ponder, plumb, analyze, celebrate, debate, decode and deconstruct media that is created for and targeted to kids. We will introduce you to new content and share perspectives through our monthly themes and conversations. We are a mixed audience of children’s media reviewers and content creators, so I can promise you a diversity of opinion. The common thread (if I may speak for “we”) is an endless fascination with the way children’s media, entertainment and digital content shapes children: Some of it for the better, some of it for the worse. In the middle of all that content, are children, who clearly make this blogspot an important hub for discussion.
Here’s our handles and who you can look forward to reading in the day’s ahead:
From the Director’s Chair: Debbie Gordon, Director, kidsmediacentre
Entertain This!: Suzanne Wilson, Coordinator, Children’s Entertainment Program
Faculty Forum: Faculty from the Children’s Entertainment Program
Gradu-savvy-vants: Centennial College graduates
Student POV: Current Centennial College students
Luminary-ans: Guest bloggers
The Parent Perspective: Guest parents
Edu-speak: Guest teachers
Media offers a world of entertainment and learning possibilities for children and youth. The kidsmediacentre explores kids' media futures and is committed to supporting cross-platform content producers in Canada to ensure the kids' media industry is vibrant, indigenous and committed to the healthy growth of children.