What do we do at Media Smart and why

We recently launched our new body image and advertising resources that focus on boys and the effects of negative body image on young men. These resources (like all our resources) have been created for schools and youth organisations to be used as a lesson, in an assembly or as a workshop. We also provide guides for parents and guardians – which are free to download.

Research shows that over half of girls and a quarter of boys think their peers have body image problems. So now more than ever, it is important that pupils are media literate and able to navigate the world of commercial messaging.

Technology and media are here to stay, so teaching media and digital literacy is crucial for helping children become better, safer and more empowered digital citizens.

An article was recently published in the Washington Post that we thought summed up the need perfectly:

“Between wanting to be informed and the permeating torrent of media, it’s not realistic to shut it out of your child’s life completely. In teaching our kids good digital citizenship, we don’t want to do that anyway. With a little mentorship, we can help fight the incursion of fake news with what always defeats ignorance: knowledge”.

It’s not just about fake news though, it’s also understanding how and when we are being advertised to. Advertising has changed dramatically and there is a need to keep up to date with the latest ways brands are reaching out to consumers. What is an advert, how has it been constructed and why? Research is proving that the more media literate young people are the happier they are about their body image.

Following the launch of our latest resources and our supporting awareness campaign – the Boys’ Biggest Conversation, we thought it would be a good time to reflect and remind you of what we’ve done so far.

Here’s a summary of what Media Smart provides and why, with links to each of the resources available.

1. An Introduction to Advertising for 7-11yrs

These introductory lessons help children understand what an advert is and why they are there. Many young people have never had this explained to them, they may not be able to distinguish between what an advert is and what isn’t. These lessons look at advertising across all mediums from print to digital. It also looks at the creative process behind advertising and there are a number of exercises to spot adverts and design their own.

2. Digital Advertising for 9-11 yrs

These resources delve deeper into digital and social media advertising.

Advertising has evolved considerably, parents and teachers are telling us that they’re finding it hard to keep up to date, and help their children navigate the digital space.

These resources guide you through the different ways advertisers use digital platforms  and why and how they differ. Examples used include social media, gaming, video, celebrities and vloggers, and website search.

3. Social Media & Advertising for 11-16 yrs

Many young people are introduced to social media platforms without any understanding of what they’re actually seeing and why. They don’t know that what they see is determined by their behavior online and what details (including their age) are recorded?

This resource aims to encourage students to think more deeply about the types of social media available to them:

  • The advertising they are exposed to and how to manage it.
  • Their relationship with social media sites, their sponsors and advertisers.
  • The business models that allow them to access a whole range of sophisticated services free, or at very low cost.

4. Body Image & Advertising for 9-11 yrs

These resources look at how we compare ourselves with people in advertising and media and how this can influence our thoughts on body image. They show you how adverts and images can be digitally manipulated to give a different idea of what’s “real” and help children understand how the media might make them feel and why.

5. Body Image & Advertising for 11-14 yrs

All of our resources are gender inclusive, but off the back of Credos research, we thought there was a need to create educational materials that focus on the effects of negative body image on boys (as many are more girl focused). We also created a film called the Boys’ Biggest Conversation with First News and Dr Ranj where we spoke to secondary school boys about the way they felt about their appearance and why….

Boys have the same issues as girls but don’t feel able to talk about it in the same way. The resources look at advertising, digital manipulation and the role social media plays in how you feel about yourself. 

Written by Ruth Gilbey