One of the national standards for middle-school health curriculum is teaching students how media influences their well-being. We help students explore this in our MEDIAMINDS co-ed workshops (see below) during the school day in health classes. Each interactive workshop is the length of one class.
#1: Media's story of "the perfect girl & guy"
Most of mainstream media teaches girls and boys that what matters most about them is how "hot" they are, and pressures them to achieve impossible physical standards. The repercussions on teens are alarming. The best way to combat this is to teach them how to deconstruct and challenge these messages, while determining where true self-worth comes from. In this interactive, class-long lesson, we explore the media notion of "the perfect girl" and "the perfect boy"; how and why the media pushes this narrative, the role of advertising, and the impact on our health. Students learn about gender double-standards, the lack of diversity in media content, and how these messages affect the well-being of preteens and undermine them.
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#2: Thinking critically and demanding better
In this second workshop, we provide students with concrete strategies to think critically about media messaging, while using social media to strike back. Students discuss what types of people should receive the media spotlight, and explore current content that aims to make audiences feel valued and empowered. We discuss how to use media for activism, and provide examples of real-life teens using their social media accounts for social good.
#3: Become a #Gamechanger!
Students use their new knowledge and skills to tackle our creative challenge: Design video-game avatars or comic-book heros that 1) battle injustice, 2) break gender stereotypes, and 3) showcase diversity. Teens create their own social-media campaign to share their inspiring characters with their peers and school community. In this way, students help build a healthier media culture.