Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Media, education and mumbo jumbo...

Ministry of Education (MinEdu) funds research on children and media (education). For example MediaMuffinssi program has been started with the aid of MinEdu's contribution. Mediamuffinssi is publishing books and other material for parents and children as well as organizing e.g. Pelixi-competition for children and youth to encourage them to make their own games. Anyhow. One of the most recent outcome of the intiative is "Media effects on minors - review of international research and practices of media education and regulation" report (in Finnish only) published today.

It is good that we have some level of discussion around the topic. It is just so sad to notice how far the officers of MinEdu and some researchers really are from the real world. The suggestions are good ones alright but many of them have already been realized! How can you make suggestions when you apparently do now know what is out there already? To put it another way: If the suggestions are not topical anymore - what is the value of the report?

The suggestions:
1. More funding for national research projects (media education, media psychology)
2. Media culture center should be founded (btw. this was suggested already a few years back in another report by MinEdu)
3. Media education for schools (yes -- good -- by whom, when...)
4. Accessible media education (in relation to this: they are suggesting to fund games which are suitable for children to put it short. Guess what? We already have that by Nordic Game Program).
5. Coherent and media neutral legislation
6. Materials for teaching, intervention and precaution
7. Support for parents
8. Virtual (online) youth and mental health work
9. Structural progress to improve wellbeing

The suggestions are nothing new. Certainly there are always more things to be done. I agree but please! For me the event (room full of middle aged women, not a single soul with insiders with of teenagers' online existence) only emphasizes the chasm between "adults" and "youth" and/or "resolutions" and "reality". At such events, meaningless "wisdom" is been spead to the ignorant listeners.

Instead they room full of people should discuss what is currently happening at the online communities from the viewpoint of media education or child welfare or ask from the youngsters. But no -they go around and around the same topic over and again. Elämä on parasta huumetta ry, Pelastaa Lapset, Mannerheimin lastensuojeluliitto and youth workers from 30 biggest towns in Finland have started their online services (SNS) years ago -- in 2002-2005. That must be news for the writers of the report. But is is just sad - just sad.


Anonymous said...

This report is not a "wow-look-we-have-new-ideas" - type of a paper, but a review and a summary of all ideas and results of research. Mainly the target group of this review is people that are NOT aware of the media effects on minors at all. This report is important for decision makers and
soul with insiders with of teenagers' online existence"-phrase. In that room there was several quite young specialists working with young people and also in online communities :)

I agree, people should discuss more what is currently happening at the online communities from the viewpoint of media education or child welfare. But you know, this discussion is on all the time. There is a lot of action in that field. And we have asked from the youngsters what to do and what we need to know and where this digital world is going.

I must remind also that the people who attended in this event, are really not the decision makers who "starts the engine": gives money for researchers, schools etc. to start media education and research even in some level. We are just workers in this field, trying to point out the importance of this matter.

The fact is that we need more open and constructing interaction between researchers, professionals and politicians. That is the only way to make things right in my opinion. Welcome to join the discussion.

Cheers, Anniina from Finnish Society on Media Education

SonjaK said...

Thanks for the comment Anniina! I just wish there would be some wow-new-ideas as we are really lacking them. We are in the right track but still there is too much "I think" and too little "Let's do" discussion going on. Also if/when some of ideas / results are already there, it would be good to refer to them "look no further, just log in to Nordic Council web site or Pelixi.fi etc.

Anyhow, it is good that there (in Finland) is a lot of going on around kids/youth and media! One thing would be to promote our procedures and ideas more efficiently internationally.