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This generation of children have never known a world without digital media; this is different to their parents and comes with positives and challenges.
The access it provides to information and engaging, interactive content for children is amazing but it also means that there is more exposure to unhelpful messages. Gender stereotyping is pervasive in mainstream media and this is not new, but the digital format amplifies these messages because of the greater reach it has – we’ve come a long way since four TV channels and the test card girl!
The other generational difference is the increased level of sexualised images and messages in the mainstream and this goes from billboard adverts to online content, as can be seen in this snapshot of the High street collected by parents:
Food Kiosk at the Fairground
Fireplace Company Van - High Street
These are all very tame compared to the content of some music videos, film clips on You Tube, Games etc. The difference is that we can set parental controls for a lot of that but we can’t shield our children from all mainstream content. Primary school aged children are still developing their critical thinking so are more susceptible to media messages than older children or adults. What we can do is talk to them about what they see and help them to distinguish between helpful and unhelpful messages and show them alternatives: