Media literacy and young children




“Media literacy suggests a capacity or competence to do something with media, whether to make sense of it, or produce it, understand its role in our societies” as promoted by Hoechsmann and Poyntz (2012, p. 1).

I would like to share my thoughts and knowledge on media literacy, discussing the meaning, its importance and why teachers and parents should help in early childhood settings.

UNESCO (2006) highlighted that “the media play a important part in the socialization of young people, a phenomenon which has been gaining in its momentum”(p. 6).


In the 21st century teaching and learning has shifted predominantly towards the digital media world. However, the teachers and the parents should work together to support the young children to be critical, creative and fun learners in relation to media education.   Weddell (2001) advocated, “Clearly media has an influence on children’s development. We see and hear how children quickly use the language, ideas and concepts presented to them in the media in their everyday communications”(p. 1).  Recent studies emphasised on “to increase student’s understands and enjoyment of media, facilitate understanding of how the media produce meaning, organized, and how they construct their own reality –all this while keeping in mind the skills and knowledge necessary to create media products” as stated by Koltay 2011, (p. 212).

“Another recent studies revealed that media education enhances children’s global awareness, as well as their understandings of social, cultural and economic differences”as indicated by Weddell (2001). Also Torres and Mercado (2006) suggested “as part of the activities of media literacy carried on in the classroom, teachers should help students ‘read between the lines’ of the media messages, question the interests behind them, and learn how to look for alternative ways to be informed and /or entertained”(p.273).

More info- on importance’s, meaning, and lesson plan click the link below.

Why should teachers and parents support media literacy for very young children?

The parents and teachers can provide the basic understanding and hand on experience to our children with the skills of decoding, interpreting and translating the messages presented by the media. This enables young children to decide and analyse what is acceptable and what is not. The teacher resources comprise of the 10 benefits of media literacy and the link below can take you to them.

National Association for the Education of young children (p. 2012) believes that early childhood teachers have a responsibility to assist children in developing skills in non-violent conflict resolution, to assist children to become critical viewers of all forms of media, and to encourage the constructive use of the media for instilling positive social values. In my view, young children should be taught how to analyze, representations of their thoughts and ideas in a meaningful and purposeful manner. The media connects people in many social able, educational ways, and by using the different languages. The next links provides with more information on media violence in young children’s lives.

This resource can help to teachers and parents know how to support media education.


“We must prepare young people for living in a world of powerful images, words and sounds.” —UNESCO, 1982

Through media our young children are connected to people, places and events around the world. Weddell (2001) suggested, “media enhances children’s global awareness”(p.2). From the early childhood perspective I totally agree with the need for young children to be aware of the media.  The media learning skills like ability to match, group, imaginations, identify messages to make sense provides a good start for media education in the early years.  I understand teachers and the whanau, together with the children play a vital role in children’s learning media skills. This relates to Knobel and Wilber (2009) also suggested that “the children’s creation and production of their own media moved children away from just listening, viewing, reading or playing with the films, video games, or electronic toys adult have designed for them”(p.141 by working together with teacher support and this where teacher role gets into place  “through teacher inquiry, guided engagements meaning mediators, and explorations”(p.142). How teachers can involve and provide opportunity of awareness within media literacy classroom was advocated by Teichert (2015) “ Teachers mediated children’s involvement through watchful waiting –to explain, to spark children’s interest, or to be helpful whenever the need arose” (p 9) through the literacy playshop.

Wohlwend (2013) recommended that “storyboards are as an integral tool in the planning phase of the film production process, which they saw aligning closely with writing process that students were already familiar with the workshop: brainstorm, plan, draft, write, edit, and publish”. This inquiry process is used in the Reggio Emillia approach of teaching and learning amongst young children. Teachers play vital role in the media education and planning.

Weddell (2001 p.2) who argued that “most importantly early childhood teachers need to feel less reluctant about using media in their curriculum. They can help children to make sense of the many forms of media imagery, thereby gaining insight into how the mass media affects children’s images of themselves and their world”. The positive and praising approached in the classroom enables the children enjoy the day.

In saying teachers and parents working alongside children to support their media literacy, rather than banning play associated media product will not help children make sense of what they see and hear as specified by Weddell (2001). Both the parents and teachers should together help supporting and choosing educational purposeful media literacy both at home and at the kindergarten.

“Children’s interactions within classroom spaces may be shaped by understandings from other contexts, and understandings developed in educational settings may transfer to the home” as specified by Burnett, (2010).



National Association for the Education of Young Children (2012, p.4) recommended that “digitally literate educators who are grounded in child development theory and developmentally appropriate practices have the knowledge, skills, and experience to select and use technology tools and interactive media that suit the ages and development levels of the children in their care, and they know when and how to integrate technology into the program effectively”.

Additionally Redmond (2012, p.107) writes “the preparation or empowerment approach promotes teaching practices where students use principles of media literacy or key questions to investigate the constructed nature of media messages including message purpose, codes and conventions, audience interpretations, and effects”.

In kindergarten settings learning and teaching is play based. One of approach used is empowering teaching and learning in a more social cultural perspective. From the media’s point of view the action Learning, based on the work of the late Brazilian educator Paolo Freire, can be summarized as a four-step “empowerment” process:  Awareness, Analysis, Reflection and Action.



The next links relates to the skills and strategies for media education. Great teacher resource if push in the link

In the kindergarten setting the play based teaching and learning focus more on awareness, participation and going through processes with the children. The product comes last, and it really doesn’t matter much. As an early childhood teacher point of view, involvement through participation is crucial.

Edwards (2003) proposed “Vygotsky’s central tenet was that learning led the developmental process, with children acquiring (or learning) the knowledge practices of their host communities as they interacted with others”. (p.225)

The kindergarten teaching is based on the social cultural perspectives thus Vygotsky’s theory plays a vital role. I suppose media education can be integrated into all the curriculum areas such Maths, English, social etc.

The critical enjoyment within the media education showed the useful portion of the early childhood teaching element. Our teaching processes focus on the awareness; positive encouragement and fun teaching and learning more focus on the process based rather the outcome. Redmond (2012) advised “media literacy education that priorities critical enjoyment in practice has the potential to revitalize school based learning experiences for adolescent learners who struggle to find relevancy between their school based courses and their interests and activities outside of the school.  The social cultural side and home and school together an appropriate and   meaningful way of teaching in the kindergartens. Moreover Banaji and Burn (2007) elucidate” by contrast, researchers and practitioners are likely to find culturalist perspectives valuable”(p, 20). Anderson (2017) suggested that “media has effects if used for more than nine hours per day”. Additionally she suggested teachers’ role to monitor time and plan wisely media literacy with young children.  She also declared “TV can spark your children’s imagination”.

Useful video teacher resource: Benefits of media literacy and the learners.



Literacy playshop examples –




Reference list

Anderson, S. (2017). Encourage children to learn. YouTube. Retrieved 30 January 2017

Banaji, S. & Burn, A. (2007). Creativity through a rhetorical lens: implications for schooling, literacy and media education. Literacy, 41(2), 62-70.

Burnett, C. (2010). Technology and literacy in early childhood educational settings: A review of research. Journal Of Early Childhood Literacy, 10(3), 247-270.

Edwards, S. (2003). New Directions: Charting the Paths for the Role of Sociocultural Theory in Early Childhood Education and Curriculum. Contemporary Issues In Early Childhood, 4(3), 251-266.

Hoechsmann, M., & Poyntz, S. R. (2012b). Media literacies: A critical introduction. Malden, MA, USA: Wiley-Blackwell. [Chapter 1: What is media literacy, pp. 1-16]

Knobel, M. & Wilber, D. (2009). Let’s Talk 2.0. Educational Leadership, 3, 20-24.

Koltay, T. (2011).  Media literacy, information literacy, digital literacy. Media, Culture & Society, 33(2), 211-221.

National Association for the Education of Young Children,. (2012). Technology and Interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8 (pp. 1-15). Washington, DC: Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media.

Redmond, T. (2012). The pedagogy of critical enjoyment: Teaching and reaching the hearts and minds of adolescent learners through media literacy education. Journal of Media Literacy Education, 4(2), 106-120.

TORRES, M. & MERCADO, M. (2006). The Need for Critical Media Literacy In Teacher Education Core Curricula. Educational Studies, 39(3), 260-282.

Teichert, L. (015). Wohlwend K, Literacy playshop: new literacies, popular media, and play in the early childhood classroom. Journal Of Early Childhood Literacy, 15(1) , 141-144.

UNESCO. (2006). Media Education: A toolkit for teachers, students, parents and professionals. Paris: UNESCO.

Weddell, C. (2001). Understanding Their View. Every Child, 7(1),  4-5.

Wohlwend, K. (2013). Literacy Playshop: New Literacies (1st ed., pp. 1-114). New York and London: Teachers College Press.






























4 thoughts on “Media literacy and young children

  1. It was really interesting to read your blog. I’ve always been fascinated in the Reggio Emilia approach to ECE although, I don’t know much about it. I’m keen to find out more about how they begin teaching young children about storyboards- this is an area that as primary school teacher some year 0-1 children really struggle to grasp, yet it can be an excellent learning tool to develop early literacy skills. Also, the action stations you mentioned is used by an old colleague who raves about it and the effects they have had on her classes over recent years. Thank you for sharing your blog. It has definitely spurred me to inquire further about these two approaches for young learners.



      Hi Anna I hope this above link can explain more about Reggio Emilia pedagogy and the storyboard. I understand at kindergartens we used the laminated or the flannel cutout stories for the children to use to further the story, tactually hand on moving characters and in groups and individually working on the story board. At this level, we used more pictures than words: e.g., three little pigs and they tell us the story using picture and a few words by moving and positioning the characters as it appears in the story. Thanks Anna that you liked my blog and you can of course use these ideas in your teaching. Thanks Chandra


    2. I enjoyed reading your blog Chandra and support your views on how media literacy is important in schools and the many benefits it has for children’s development and understanding of images of themselves and their world as stated by Weddell (2001). As you mentioned, teachers and parents working alongside each other is a key component to making media literacy effective in schools and meaningful for the learner; it certainly sounds ideal and I wonder about the professional learning for teachers to make this happen? And how do we work in partnership with parents? I will be very keen to hear how this works in your ECE context.


  2. Tena koe Chandra, nga mihi ki a koe mo to maramatanga i waenganui ki to whakaaro.

    I found this blog of particular interest due to our previous conversations around early childhood education and the lack of resourcing within the realms of media literacy. A particular quote I enjoyed was “Children’s interactions within classroom spaces may be shaped by understandings from other contexts, and understandings developed in educational settings may transfer to the home” as specified by Burnett (2010). I felt this to be a very clear representation of the need for media literacy within the ECE space or it could be an argument that children already practice media literacy, but in a non-formal manner. For example, before a child goes to school, you can assume they have an understanding about what school is; however, I would argue that their image of what school is like will come from the media. I remember making assumptions about what high school and intermediate would be like through my experiences watching movies, such as The Breakfast Club and High School High. Now using this context you could argue that shows like Barney the Dinosaur and PlaySchool give children an idea of what to expect when they head into the ECE environment.

    As mentioned by Esther above, you talked about relationships with parents and how you could help to foster an interest in media literacy, when there is an extremely strong stigma around media and the media machine?

    Thank you very much for your insight and extensive reference list. I look forward to seeing your presentation tomorrow.

    Nga mihi nunui,


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