Perhaps our children should be allowed to use their cell phones in school and access more freely social networking sites. Research shows that using these tools help children develop the last step of media literacy … communication … more fully.
The cell phones that most parents provide their children for convenience may be of significant importance to a child‘s media literacy. The cell phone is the number one media used amongst youth to communicate with their world of friends and family, but normally not with strangers. (Livingstone and Bober, 2005) Additionally, according to Lamontange, Singh and Palosky (2010), “… cell phones and iPods have become true multi-media devices: in fact, young people now spend more time listening to music, playing games, and watching TV on their cell phones (a total of :49 daily) than they spend talking on them (:33).”
Additionally, the internet – specifically sites like Facebook – can significantly contribute to a child’s media literacy. Livingstone and Bober (2005) found that “… the internet does permit some broadening of everyday networks, strengthening already-existing relationships which are otherwise hard to maintain – friends from abroad, distant relatives, staying in touch with people who have moved and adding local contacts within the peer group whom they may not have previously got to ‘know’.” ( p. 14) But, say they, children “…consider a wider range of options – face-to-face, writing, email, instant message, chat rooms, telephone, SMS – and they judge them according to a range of criteria (such as cost, privacy, wanting closeness or deliberately keeping a protective…” before settling on which medium with which to communicate. (Livingstone and Bober, p. 14) “For some, there are advantages of communicating online: 25% think that it is easier to keep things private online, 25% feel more confident talking on the internet, 22% find it easier to talk about personal things online and, as we also found in the focus groups, some (17%) enjoy being rude or silly online.” (Livingstone and Bober, p. 14)
Aside from socializing, most children do not engage in other forms of communication using technology. (Livingstone and Bober, 2005) Still, “… it is through online communication that students explore, experiment and so gain a wider-range of internet-based skills, confidence and expertise that may carry over into traditionally defined ‘educational’ uses.” (Livingstone and Bober, p. 20)
Lamontange, Singh and Palosky (2010). Daily Media Use Among Children and Teens Up Dramatically From Five Years Ago. The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Accessed at http://www.kff.org/entmedia/entmedia012010nr.cfm. 19 Nov 2010.
Livingstone, S., & Bober, M. (2005). Taking Up Online Opportunities? Children’s Uses of the Internet For Education, Communication and Participation. Conference Papers — International Communication Association, 1-34. Retrieved from Communication & Mass Media Complete database.