Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Our Fabricated World - Is Media Molding Minds?

By Dr. Susan Sridhar | Dean of Media Studies, Hindustan College of Arts & Science

Media messages are created by people. It is people that choose the visuals, the text, the layout and it is their perspective. The reasons are very often purely commercial. The Media is an Industry; a market enterprise that is ruled by politics and economics.

The Importance of Media Literacy

Do children really understand what ads are all about? By and large children...

  • Are cognitively and psychologically defenseless against such messages.
  • Lack real life experience.
  • Face high peer pressure to conform.
  • Cannot understand the intent to sell factor.
  • Cannot always differentiate between the Reel and the Real.

Be aware of stereotyping. Sterotyping…

  • totally obliterates individuality.
  • reduces a wide range of differences in people to simplistic categorizations.
  • transforms assumptions about particular groups of people into "realities“.
  • can be used to justify the position of those in power.
  • perpetuates social prejudices and inequality.

Stereotyping Affects Kids. Some of the common affects are:

  • Fighting and violence in general is the best way to solve problems.
  • Smoking and drinking is something cool.
  • If you love somebody you ought to gift them chocolates, or if you are working then of course diamonds or even platinum.
  • Being slim and fair assures you more popularity and perhaps more success.
Image from http://deborahtan.com/tag/stereotyping/

The Real Truth About the Beauty Industry in India

  • The Indian Cosmetic Industry is worth 4.6 billion dollars and is now 1.6% of the global cosmetic market and according to CII, the growth per annum is at 15 to 20%.
  • The cosmetic consumption changed with the economic liberalization in 1991 and with a succession of beauty queens from India.
  • The concept of ‘size zero’ and ‘white privilege’ is very much in existence.
  • By and large people are dissatisfied with their bodies and looks.Research indicates that exposure to images of  beautiful, thin models is linked to depression, loss of self-esteem and the development of unhealthy eating habits in women and girls.


So, What Do We Do Now?

Be An Involved Parent

  • Set limits and get actively involved in your child’s media activities.
  • Rather than telling them “No”, explain why you are saying “No”.
  • Better is Active Monitoring where you watch along with the children, explain and evaluate.
  • Explain why blind stereotyping could be harmful.

Deconstructing Media Messages 

Explain how a media message is created. This could be treated as a game. Choose any program, maybe an ad. Then…
  1. Describe the kinds of people involved in creating that particular message.
  2. Discuss the audio and visual effects that were used.
  3. Discuss and explain the purpose of the message. Is it for information, entertainment or is there any other hidden meaning? 
  4. Make Media a family activity. Be particularly careful with the Internet. On one hand it is a virtual encyclopaedia but on the other there is absolutely no censorship.
  5. Voice your opinion and encourage them to voice theirs. Analyse the child’s opinion about the message. Do they believe it or not? Make them compare it to real life so that they would know that there are exaggerations in ads & any sort of programming. For instance, how someone can drive real fast on narrow streets and not get in an accident.

About Moms' Space  

Moms' Space organized a workshop for parents (Yes, both moms and dads) to introduce the concepts of Media Literacy. Dr. Susan Sridhar, Dean of Media Studies at Hindustan College of Arts and Science, expounded the various reasons why parents have to be media literate themselves, so that they can teach their children to view and analyze media logically.


Moms' Space is a Women of Worth support group for mothers of young children. We currently have two chapters in Chennai: One in Kilpauk and another near ECR.
Write us at womenofworthindia@gmail.com or contact the WOW Office at 90942 26015 if you would like more information.

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