But what about media literacy? Watching TV with your child, explaining the ways that TV manipulates, explaining that TV and reality are very different. The reason the TV industry loves media literacy is that it gives people an excuse to not turn off the TV. It even encourages teachers to bring TV into the classroom (or assign a show as homework) so that it can be analyzed.
But even as you are encouraged to watch in a cynically critical manner, your brains will still go into slow beta mode and stay there until the TV is turned off. And while the TV is on, you and your child won't be having a conversation, making dinner, going outside, playing, reading, etc... all they things that make life worthwhile.
Because of the problem of underage drinking, beer companies were encouraged to make TV commercials discouraging teenagers from drinking. I saw one of these commercials, it consisted of very hip looking teenagers drinking in a cool bar. Finally the hip bartender kicked them out. Out on the street, they all gathered around their friend who was throwing up. So basically this beer company got a free pass to advertise to teenagers. Here's an even better example, an "anti-smoking" ad that resulted in more teenagers smoking, according to a study looking at reverse-psychology.
As far as I am concerned, media literacy is just a free pass for the TV industry. It is a chance for the TV industry to give financial support to very sincere people, who then encourage everyone to watch TV.
(For example Cable in the Classroom promoting "media literacy".)
It's not the message, it's the medium. Media Literacy advocates have done a very good job of convincing the public that the trouble with TV is the content. That if only sex and violence could be reduced, that TV would be a wonderful source of education and entertainment. Conveniently that puts the onus on the powers-that-be.
Luckily we, as individuals, have the power to ban TV from our lives.
"This viewpoint exemplifies early theories of consumer development—first proposed by Ward, Wackman and Wartella in the 1970’s—when companies first started to target advertising to children. These theories posit that once children understand the persuasive intent of advertising they possess a “cognitive filter” to protect them from unwanted influence.
This belief that children can be “inoculated” against the effects of advertising is the basis for teaching media literacy in schools. No one would argue that teaching children that advertising sometimes tries to exploit and even lie to consumers would be a bad thing. Except for one thing—there is no evidence that understanding the motives behind food advertising actually reduces its effects on children’s food preferences.
Many researchers have tried to show that media literacy training can teach children to resist advertising for unhealthy foods. These studies do show that media literacy can increase children’s skepticism about food advertising. However, recent research also shows that greater skepticism does not reduce the effectiveness of food advertising. " - Psychology Today (Feb 2014)
"Does Media Education Work?" - Association for Media Literacy (Feb 2013)
"It seems peculiar, therefore, that Dove would offer a film demonstrating the ubiquitous attack of the beauty industry that ends with the suggestion to parents that they are the ones to make a difference by simply talking to their kids. If the industry is the problem, it strikes me as odd that the parents are supposed to be the solution. “Peculiar?” “Odd?” Maybe the word “suspicious” is a better fit. Telling parents to talk to their children is not unusual as a public relationsPhilip Morris Talk to your Kids; They’ll Listen strategy. For instance, Philip Morris, among other companies, has long been pushing that message in its “public service” ads, particularly since the industry began to face a real threat of tort liability in the 1990s. The message seems public-spirited, but most industry analysts believe that Philip Morris is delivering, not a public-service message to parents, but a responsibility-shifting message to the public: kids smoke because of uninvolved or irresponsible parents, not because of anything that Philip Morris has done." - The Situationist (Oct 2007)