-- National PTA/Cable in the Classroom’s “Take Charge of Your TV Week” Promotes Tips, Tools for Teachers, Parents --

Washington, DC --
Parents must take an active role in guiding children’s use of the media, especially television and the Internet, and to transform them into powerful learning tools, according to a new report released today by Cable in the Classroom. The report heralds “Take Charge of Your TV Week” (Oct 13-19), an annual observance sponsored by the National PTA, Cable in the Classroom, and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.

The report, Thinking Critically About the Media: Schools and Families in Partnership, supports an underlying premise that media literacy is key to acquiring essential life skills such as critical thinking, resistance to risky behaviors, and strong citizenship.

“The National PTA has long recognized the importance of media literacy as an essential life skill in the 21st century, and we know parent involvement is key to its success, not only at home, but in schools as well,” said Shirley Igo, president of the PTA. “Not only can we accentuate the positive effect of the media, but critical viewing skills can mitigate the negative impact of media on children and youth.”

According to the report, parents bear equal responsibility with schools for making the most of the media’s enormous potential to “build community, educate, and inspire” and to shield children from any harmful effects.

“The issue is not so much about what you let your children see…the real issue is a parent’s answer to this question: How much are you willing to help them understand what they see and what it means?” writes Folami Prescott-Adams, a community psychologist and president of Helping Our Minds Expand, Inc.

The report outlines useful strategies parents and schools can adopt to transform the passive hours children spend consuming media into hours spent enhancing their critical thinking skills, analyzing and challenging the messages they are taking in. Among them are the following:
  • Start media literacy as soon as children start watching TV.
  • Provide a weekly menu of shows from which to choose and allow children to help select from those programs.
  • Commit to one hour a week of “cognitive TV,” incorporating guided discussion and identification of the values, ideas, and information conveyed.
  • Network with other families to pre-view and review a film, website, or TV program and share information.
  • Familiarize yourself with youth media and culture, to keep up with these rapidly changing influences and to lend some credibility to your discussions about media.
  • Remember that media literacy is not media bashing. Adults must validate and acknowledge young people’s experiences before they will accept and apply media literacy skills you teach them.
  • Integrate media literacy skills in all curricular areas, language arts, social studies, health, history, geography, math, and science.
  • Get kids involved in media production, to illuminate the decisions and choices that are made in constructing media messages.
“Parents are essential partners with educators in teaching media literacy skills to children,” said Peggy O’Brien, Ph.D., executive director of Cable in the Classroom. “Television is in many rooms in the house, and its edgy younger sibling – the Internet – is being devoured by children at home, at the Boys and Girls Club, and at Grandma’s. Parents have a huge responsibility to equip kids to deconstruct the media messages that bombard them.”

For an advance look at the report, please visit:

To attend the conversation or to arrange an interview with a report author, please call contact.

CIC represents the cable telecommunications industry’s commitment to education – to improve teaching and learning for children in schools, at home, and in their communities. This is the only industry-wide philanthropic initiative of its kind; since 1989, 8,500 cable companies and 39 cable networks have provided free access to commercial-free, educational cable content and new technologies to 81,000 public and private schools, reaching 78 percent of K-12 students. CIC focuses on five essential elements to ensure quality education in the 21st century: visionary and sensible use of technologies, engagement with rich content, community with other learners, excellent teaching, and the support of parents and other adults.