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Media literacy for preschoolers: Parenting a savvy viewer

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Although most research about media literacy focuses on children’s classroom experiences, I believe it’s never too early to begin fostering media literacy. Media literacy can happen at home. Parents can talk with their preschoolers about the media in age-appropriate ways, giving them tools to help them think critically.

Unfortunately, there’s not much research out there on parent-based media literacy – but from speaking with other parents, I know it’s happening in a lot of homes. Now, some families may not think of the conversations they have with their little ones about the media as “media literacy.” It’s not a term that everyone is familiar with, after all. But if you’re talking with your child about what is happening on screen, and why, chances are you’re helping your child become a media literate individual.

My son is four years old. A couple of years ago, we suspended our DirecTV subscription and experimented with using Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and other internet-based sources for watching television content on our TV set. The results were great: for a fraction of the cost, we were still able to access 99% of the content we enjoyed.

Because we didn’t miss “regular” television, we canceled our DirecTV subscription altogether and never looked back. (This worked well for us, but I’m sure it’s not for everyone…your mileage may vary!)

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