Media literacy success at school

My son, R, was so eager to tell me that his Freshman Advisory teacher was going to do a unit about media literacy, and was using the documentary film “Consuming Kids,” that he couldn’t wait, and sent a text message from school. So we’ll leave the question of texting in school aside for now because this was such important news. He knew I had the film and that I think all teens should see it. But he hadn’t seen it yet. (Check out Part 1 above)
He told me the class talked about the FTC losing its power to regulate advertising to children back in the early 80s, and debated whether the government should regulate advertising to children.
“I realized how little everyone else knows,” he texted, with proper spelling.
What I kept to myself was that the teacher, Marc. L., had developed a three-day media literacy unit after I recommended the film to him. The Freshman Advisory course is new at our high school, and it’s still in an experimental stage, with plenty of room for innovation. I saw an opening and jumped in. I sent R’s teacher a link to the Media Education Foundation site and told him about my belief in the importance of media literacy education. Mr. L agreed.
He showed the film several chapters at a time over the course of three weeks, and used course materials on the website to help spark class  discussion.
“The kids love it,” he told me. “The students are really engaging it.” Mr. L, a science teacher, developed some ideas to follow up the lessons from Consuming Kids, including having the kids choose a day and journal their interaction with brands. In addition, he shared the lessons he developed with the other Freshman Advisory teachers, and four other teachers are using the film in their classes.
I deeply appreciate what this teacher is doing for the students. Many young people will benefit from what they learn in this class. They can apply what they learned now and throughout their lives. It feels like a huge success for Marketing, Media and Childhood, where our mission is  to raise awareness among parents of unhealthy media messages, and to promote media literacy education in the schools.

Please share this success with me. Talk to the teachers at your school about the importance of media literacy.  Many teachers recognize the need, but it’s tough for them to find time in class during this era of standardized tests. We can support teachers by letting the school administration know that we consider media literacy education a priority.

Then tell your teachers about the terrific resources at MEF. There are many more documentaries available there, especially for older students. Teachers at all levels can also find resources at the Media Awareness Network and the Media Literacy Project


  1. The adult/political version is also worth watching.

  2. This is an invaluable post. We should be teaching media literacy in schools, especially how commercials target children and women consumers. Since my son was two, whenever he wanted something from a commercial, I told him they just want our money. Now he tells me that and he walks away from whatever commercial he sees.

  3. Weniger Gottquatsch – I think this is the same one that you are thinking of. (I said above that all teens should watch it, but in fact I believe everyone should watch it, especially parents.) Anyone interested in seeing this film can watch it on youtube, or go to a local screening. Also, you can probably purchase it for a significantly discounted price for personal use. If you have a group in the Boston area that wants to see it, email me. emcn17 @ gmail (dot)com

  4. The film I refer (and link) to in the comment above is here. It's long but worth the viewing.The film to which you gave us access is also excellent. I'd note though, that it's somewhat ponderous, breathless and relentless in its marshalling of facts. It's also guilty of using some of the same tactics it finds in corporate marketing: just listen to the background music. While I admire its pursuit of truth, I would suggest a lighter approach.As an example of a lighter approach and maybe a more effective one for teens, listen to the extraordinary piece of countercultural advocacy at

  5. Thanks for posting these links, Weniger Gottquatsch! And for coming back to clarify. No wonder I was confused about your earlier comment. The link was not showing up as a different color on my machine. Also thanks for the comments on Consuming Kids – very valid observations. I am going to take a close look at the film and the other link that you recommended.

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