Media fears – animation for media education
Safely with media
This animation discusses the fears raised by media contents and how they are reflected in the everyday lives of children. It offers an opportunity to discuss what is true and fictitious in the media with early childhood and pre-primary education-aged children and what can be done if they are scared or confused by something that they have seen.
All children are affected by media in their everyday lives, and it is the adult’s duty to ensure that their children can feel safe as they engage with different media sources. As a rule, children should only be shown content that is suitable for them. The age ratings for audiovisual programming (kavi.ikarajat.fi) are designed to protect young viewers, and it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with them together with your children. Content suitable for all ages is marked using the S symbol, but it should be noted that some contents, such as the news, have no age ratings. Adults should be present and willing to assume responsibility for monitoring their children’s media use and for assessing the suitability of the content they see, to ensure a safe media experience.
It is worth remembering that a child’s emotional skills will also protect them when they engage with media. Identifying, naming and valuing your child’s emotions and experiences are the keys to processing media-related experiences. Children should be encouraged to express their emotions and feelings, and praised and thanked whenever they do so. Adults can help children identify and name their emotions, and they can assist younger family members by responding to and verbalising their emotional reactions.
Emotional skills can be practised together, for example by linking the exploration of emotions to shared media experiences. Did a character or story make you laugh, or did something feel exciting or scary? In addition to sharing their emotions and experiences, children can be encouraged to share their media-related interests and, for example, the media devices they use in everyday life. Once a child becomes accustomed to sharing their media experiences with adults, it will be natural for them to turn to an adult if they are puzzled by something they have seen.
A child’s media experiences can also include confusing or frightening situations. They might be scared by something they have seen, unexpectedly or unintentionally, in their media. Children also experience media contents differently and can sometimes be scared by a character, story or atmosphere that was designed to entertain children their age. When it comes to media, fear is an emotion that protects children from any content that they are not yet prepared to handle.
Children should also learn to protect themselves from any surprising or scary content, for example by closing their eyes, leaving the device they are using, or closing the device or application. The most important point, however, is that the child can rely on an adult. Children should also be taught not to expose other children to distressing media, such as scary videos.
It is often the case that a child will feel frightened and anxious about the things that they do not understand. Children under the age of five are not usually able to discern between reality and fiction, and it is a good idea to introduce your child to a wide range of media contents, both fictitious and real, such as animations or child-friendly news broadcasts. This will help them understand that some media is fact and some fiction. By allowing children to experiment with filming, photography and editing, they will come to understand that media is created by people – and understanding the nature of different media contents and how they are created will help them interpret and discuss their media experiences.
Text: KAVI and Riikka Vuorinen, City of Turku
The animation and pedagogical section support the media literacy skills of children in early childhood and pre-primary education by focusing on the New Literacies development programme’s good pedagogical practices for Personal Use of Media, Safety, and Wellbeing.
The Life Online animated series, produced by the National Audiovisual Institute (KAVI), has been designed for children and young people of different age groups. Each animation includes a set of pedagogical material to support the discussion of its themes. The material can be used both in early childhood education and care and in pre-primary and comprehensive education. It can also be used in other situations, such as supporting the media education provided by libraries or at home.
Published under the CC BY-NC license