Why MediaWise?

Let's start by dismissing the myth that kids are digital savvy, because they're not. Yes our children have super-charged thumbs, mine can Snapchat skilfully, create a slow-mo video in a heartbeat, and are constantly teaching me how to use new media. But being able to use media is very different from having an active and critical relationship with it and children still believe what they see and hear.

We know from research that kids are bombarded with hundreds of media messages every day, whether that’s advertising, commercial sponsorships, online gaming or social media. Our own research¹ has revealed that children as young as 3 see upwards of 1,000 TV ads for unhealthy foods over the course of a year. They are also unable to distinguish between content and marketing messages²ā€‹. And most worryingly the WHO now recognise the unequivocal link between marketing messages and obesity.

It is against that backdrop that we at safefood took a view that trying to shelter kids from the media world that surrounds them is futile. Instead, our kids need to be empowered to interpret, analyse and critique the many media messages that they consume. So we produced a resource for primary school teachers called MediaWise, to help give the children the skills to become media literate and ultimately have the confidence to make healthy, informed choices for themselves.

a boy with phone, a girl with headphones

The resource was developed with the input of teachers and an expert group drawn from education, advertising, media and regulation. MediaWise spans eight lessons under four themes with bespoke activities for Junior-Senior Infants, 1st & 2nd class, 3rd & 4th class and 5th & 6th class. The methodologies are fun and child-friendly so they involve role play, circle time, drama, group work, visual arts etc. 

Mediawise promotes critical thought including topics exploring need versus want and the new concept of “fake news”... lessons from which I think us grown-ups might benefit also! Nuanced but very relevant concepts like bias, hidden messages in advertising & sponsorship, and celebrity endorsements are also covered in an age-appropriate way. 

Teachers can access MediaWise by visiting www.mediawise.ie.


¹Young children's food brand knowledge. Early development and associations with television viewing and parent's diet” Dr Mimi Tatlow-Golden & Eilis Hennessy (University College Dublin) Moira Dean & Lynsey Hollywood (Queen’s University Belfast); safefood 2014

²“Who’s feeding the kids online? Digital Food Marketing and Children in Ireland” Dr Mimi Tatlow-Golden Ph.D. Lynne Tracey BA, FIAPI & Dr Louise Dolphin Ph.D; Irish Heart Foundation, 2016

Posted: 28/09/2017 15:43:34 by Fiona Gilligan
Filed under: Education, MediaWise

About Me

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Fiona Gilligan
Hi, Iā€™m the Communications Director for safefood. My day job is to oversee a fantastic team in the delivery of excellent campaigns, sponsorships and resources aimed at generally helping to change the eating habits of the island of Ireland. Home is where I try to put it all into practice and am very lucky to have a husband who loves cooking and children who love food ā€“ including ice cream! Home life is peppered with tennis, wine, music, running, some great food (thanks to Ferg) and the occasional ice-cream!