Media Literacy Workshop for Boys – Contemporary Music

In a previous post on this blog, I questioned whether boys understood media messages in the same way as girls and wondered why fewer media literacy education programs exist for boys.  After delving further into the little bit of literature and research on boys and media literacy, I can safely argue that boys do need media literacy education as much as girls, although many media messages geared towards boys are different than those geared toward girls. 

For example, studies have found that looking at women’s fashion magazines can affect girls’ body- and self-esteem, whereas reading men’s fashion magazines is not correlated with boys’ body- and self-esteem (Sheldon, 2010).  Other studies and research have shown that boys and men have a greater desire to be physically strong and tough because of media portrayals of strong and tough men.  This desire for boys to show physical strength and toughness often leads to physically violent or aggressive acts.  Because of these examples and many more, I believe that boys as well as girls would benefit from gender-specific media literacy education.    

 In my last post, I discussed a media literacy workshop I co-conducted for a group of middle school girls.  How would this workshop been different had I been presenting to a group of boys instead?  Below is an outline for a hypothetical media literacy workshop for middle or high school boys.

Media Literacy Workshop for Boys – Music

Opening Survey – (when they complete this, they can choose the candy that they’ll use for our icebreaker activity)

What is your favorite type of music and why?
Who is your favorite band or singer and why?
What is your favorite song and why?
Could you ever be a rock star, rapper or musician?

Two Truths and a Lie – boys write down three statements about themselves, two of which are true and one of which is a lie.  Other boys and/or facilitators have to guess which statements is a lie.

Lesson: Focusing on Contemporary Music
In this lesson, we hope to help boys understand the ways in which music can affect the way they think of themselves and others, and how the music can affect the actions/behaviors of themselves and others.  We will use different songs/lyrics and help the boys answer the following questions:

Authorship: Who created the message?
Format: What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?
Audience: How might different people understand this message differently from me?
Content: What lifestyles, values, and point of views are represented in or omitted from, this message?
Purpose: What is this message being sent?

Watch 1-2 music videos of the boys’ choice
Receive feedback from the boys

What did they see?
How are people behaving in this video?
Do you want to act like these people? Why or why not?
If time permits, go through the above 5 questions from item #3

Activity – Create Your Own Song
Each boy creates his own rap song or re-writes the lyrics to a favorite song so it has a positive, non-violent, non-aggressive message

Have each boy share (or rap) their new lyrics

Summary Reflection
Lesson Review – Reinforce 5 media literacy questions

Challenge for the boys – consider those 5 questions next time he hears songs on the radio, TV, etc.

Closing Survey – (they need to hand this in before leaving)

Why do some musicians act aggressively and/or violently?
How do you feel when listening to your favorite type of music?
Tell us one additional thing you learned today.

Sheldon, P. (2010). Pressure to be perfect: Influences on college students’ body esteem. Southern Communication Journal, 75(3), 277-298.

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