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FMM Sisters in Chennai Call Parents to Protect their Children from the Effects of the Media
Chennai, September 2, 2009 (SIGNIS-India) - Around five hundred parents sat through the intensive sessions on Media Education organized by the famous Holy Angles Anglo-Indian Higher Secondary School run by Franciscan Missionaries of Mary in Chennai on 22 and 29 August 2009.
‘Over exposure to commercial programmes in television, not only affects our children’s studies but also their behavior. We need a joint effort of teachers, parents and children to safeguard children from the evil effects of media and lead them into creative thinking for a bright future’ was the clear message sent across to the parents through the sessions. The school management was highly impressed by the response of parents for these sessions!
Sr.Mary Zacharia, one of the finest Principals of schools in India today, with thirty years of experience in formation has been consistent in introducing Media Education in schools during the past several years.
Convinced of the fact that some of the unwanted elements in media mislead our children, Sr. Zacharia was keen that all parents participate in the programme without fail. ‘Unless the parents spend quality time with their children and get to know what is happening in their world, it may be difficult for them to lead their children to bright future and meaningful life’ told Sr.Zacharia to the parents who were led into critical reflection on ‘media products, production processes and children’s behavior’.
Dr.Magimai Pragasam, the noted Media Consultant and Film Maker was the resource person for the sessions. At the end of every session, the parents were asked to propose useful and practical strategies to combat the media related problems of our children. A documentary on Children and Cinema produced by SIGNIS INDIA covering media issues and various strategies, was screened during each session.
The ME sessions revolved around the following questions:
How media influence the social, moral, cultural and spiritual values of our children,
How the over exposure to violence in media encourage violent behavior in our children,
How advertisements convert ‘information’ into ‘wants’ and ‘wants’ into ‘needs’ resulting in creation of consumer culture,
How commercial television programmes affect the academic excellence of our children,
How depiction of celebrities and their lifestyles affect the physical health of our children leading them into psychological problems later,
How the problems of identify crisis, desire for freedom and understanding of love and sex lead our children into chaos with the support of media etc
The above topics were discussed with concrete examples during each session. The parents could link what was shared with the behavior of their children. They also explored possible interventions that could put their children on right path:
We need to be a good model to our children before celebrities, who in no way are connected towards the growth of our children, could take such positions
Children hate instructions, advice, orders etc., Hence, we need to spend quality time with them, interact at equal footing so that we get to know them well and suggest useful hints for improvement.
We need to provide space for them to develop their creative faculties. Games, art, painting, reading, visits to museums and historical places, participating in healthy competitions, participation in media activities etc could make them more creative.
We must train them to express themselves better and enable them to tell their own stories rather than listening to somebody else’s story in media.
We need to cultivate reading habits, taste for creative and educative programmes in television, skills to plan their daily and weekly schedule usefully, interest in yoga, meditation and self improvement therapies etc.,
We need to equip them to critically analyze the media products, help them to understand how media messages are constructed and enable them to participate in media activities, starting with ‘writing letter to the editor’ up to ‘writing scripts for television programmes’.
We need to appreciate the abilities of our children rather than being too strict and force them our mind on them.
The parents profoundly thanked the Principal for the time well spent. ‘Academic excellence and behavior formation both are equally important for the children to lead a meaningful life in the society. We need to work together to achieve this’ said Sr. Mary Zacharia in her concluding remarks.