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Using Media to Teach about Ethics and Values February 06 2014

Most people only consider the negative potential of media when it comes to offering life lessons to children. How often do we think, “that is so inappropriate for kids this age?” It becomes easy to believe there is no positive learning potential in television, video games, music, or movies.

When used correctly, however, media can expand a child’s horizons, help them understand ethics and values, and even help them build stronger character. All they need is your guidance. Here are a few ways to use media when teaching ethics and values:

  • Choose a television show or movie that has a strong lesson of values or ethics. Have the children watch parts of that show. Then, lead a discussion allowing them to draw their own (guided by you) conclusions on the lesson they can take away from this story. You might be surprised at the lessons the students take away even if one seemed obvious to you.
  • Choose a television show or movie with a strong role model in it. Have the children write down all of the reasons they might look up to that role model. Ask each student to identify the character trait that appeals most to him or her.
  • Choose a show or movie that focuses on social problem solving. Talk to the children about the two ways to solve a problem: ethically and unethically.
  • If you come across a problematic song, movie, or show, use it to your advantage. Compare it to a more positive influence and then lead a discussion on how one perspective doesn’t offer quality values or ethics.
  • Music can be very useful since it allows children to connect on an emotional level. Songs “challenge students to think ethically.” (O'Mathuna) Give the children a chance to read song lyrics and not just listen, and then discuss anything ethically sound or problematic they find in the song.

Media doesn’t always have to be a negative influence in the lives of children. In fact, when used in the right manner, even negative media can be a teaching tool for ethics and values.

Works Cited

O'Mathuna, D. (n.d.). Using Songs to Encourage a Reflection on Ethics. Retrieved January 6, 2014, from DCU: http://www.dcu.ie/ovpli/liu/Events/lunchtime-seminars/2008/LIU-Seminar-27-03-08-DOM.pdf