Thanks to COVID, the rise of media consumption has quickened exponentially. To keep up with viewing rates, SVOD (straight to video on demand) creators have fast-tracked their production processes, and providers, like Netflix, has been licensing new content at lightning speeds. This is coming when such concepts as; diversity and inclusion and diversity in the workplace are occupying the attention of every person in the industry from the top down. Content is virtually everywhere, and each piece of it is so affordable that it has become easily accessible to our children.
Diversity in children’s media raises issues of concern
Here are two questions for parents:
- The entire media your kids access both offline and online, do they present the true version of your story, or do you see them as stereotyped representations of your cultural content?
- As a parent, have you ever felt concerned about safety when your kids are browsing the internet? Yes, safety in terms of what they are exposed to online, whom they meet there, the risks of engaging with harmful content, privacy, security issues, etc.
In a determined effort to keep them safe and useful, I consider it a noble objective to involve parents when talking about diversity for kids. In this project that is concerned about media literacy and online safety for children, my goal is to work with parents to educate and change what our children see and relate with both onscreen and off-screen. It is centered around sharing with parents diversity guidelines, basic technology, and parenting tips to raise our kids in a digitally friendly environment.
How we involve parents in resolving children’s media diversity issues
So as a parent, I would want to know what you have observed so far in this journey of walking your children through the library of media diversity.
- Do you see yourself personally represented or underrepresented within the available children’s media?
- Do you believe your children are represented or underrepresented within the same diversity in children’s media?
- If underrepresented, how can we correct the imbalance in media representation to create a healthier culture and change the children’s media industry for the better?
- How can we make what our kids see a lot more open and inclusionary for everybody, especially in the wake of the current movement for the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC project)?
- How can you have access to the particular children’s media that paints your own story, telling the truth in such a way that even if you don’t look like the person reflected on the screen, there could be at least an overlapping situation where you can still relate to the story.
We believe that the imbalance in children’s media is better resolved with diversity and inclusion
The issues raised in Children’s Media Diversity would not simply be resolved via television campaign programs. Since television can’t get an all-inclusive diversity revamp in one attempt, it is also impossible to solve this problem through a one-dimensional approach.
Parents can collaborate with us to change the scenario, doing so with an approach that feeds from one side to develop the other. That would agree with the principle of diversity and inclusion. We feel sure that this problem will be resolved if we work together using the following two strategies:
1. The Curriculum Design
Our pro-kids pro-tech program explores an opportunity to have an open conversation with educators to include or integrate the concept of media diversity into the kids’ study curriculum so that parents will join and be part of the diversity literacy in their own home. This is borne out of the understanding that parents can educate their children only if they themselves are educated about the media sites and apps their children interact with.
Having integrated children’s media into the curriculum design at that education point, the parents will then be adequately represented in the development process of the children’s course of study. In this way, they’ll become part and parcel of the diversity literacy along with their children.
2. Media Development
After a successful curriculum design approach, the next step would be to take up the integrated course of academic studies; that is, to send the curriculum designed to the studios, the companies, and all the corporations that are responsible for children’s media development to incorporate them in the designs. By the time we’ve made this impact within those walls, the media organizations’ employees would easily imbibe the diversity message. Their output will naturally queue into the production of such children’s media that will reflect diversity inclusion.
While working on this project, we are giving particular attention to privacy, strategic messaging, and safety, making sure children appreciate the difference between good and bad in terms of diverse content and cultures worldwide. We strongly believe that adding diversity to this messaging and structure would really make sense.
We’re happy to work with different groups and climes that are also thinking and this ecosystem in the diversity literacy project. We will not lose sight of our focus on educating the parents and educators using a functional curriculum design. In turn, they will influence content creators to create safe media content that will cycle back to influence the kids for good. At this point, the parents and their kids would have been adequately represented.
We invite parents to collaborate with us
Dear parents, please let me know what you look for when you think about diversity in the media. Would you want to see:
- A represented or underrepresented population?
- A media that can teach you how you can use it as a tool to teach your kids about a population they’re not exposed to daily?
We’re in this project together as we consider it a privilege to work with changemakers through The Children’s Media Institute. If you’d like to participate in CMI, visit the site at childrensmediainstitute.com.