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Conference: Media Education in Families: New Approaches for the Cooperation with Parents''. Berlin, 12 April 2013

by Barbara Blum und Jessica Euler, Stiftung Digitale Chancen
Published on: 22.04.13
Source: eigener Bericht

Panel-Diskussion, v.l.n.r.: Tanja Haeusler, Dr. Claudia Lampert, Prof. Dr. Bernward Hoffmann, Sabine Eder, Dr. Eveline Maslon, Prof. Dr. Michael Schulte-Markwort

Media education experts regularly get asked by parents to name them "high quality'' media products for children - but does not quality substantially depend on how the recipient uses those products? Similarly, parents often request universal rules as to how much time children should spend on using media. However, whenever such rules are established - for instance the "30-60-90 rule'': 3-6-year-olds should watch TV for no more than 30 minutes a day, 6-10-year-olds no more than 60 minutes, and over-10-year olds no more than 90 minutes - they are not followed but continuously exceeded. Does it make sense, then, to establish such universal rules? Would not those rules need to be adapted to our ever-changing, digital, interactive media landscape?

Those and many other questions were being discussed on 12 April 2013 at the representation of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia in Berlin, where the conference "Media Education in Families: New Approaches for the Cooperation with Parents'' took place on that day. The conference was carried out by the Society for Media Education and Communication Culture (GMK) and the Federal Centre for Health Education (BZgA). In keynote speeches, workshops and a concluding panel discussion the conference participants set about answering those questions and develop recommendations for media education in families.

In his keynote speech Professor Norbert Neuß (University of Gießen) suggested to put media education more into the context of children’s basic needs. He also brought up some problematic aspects that impend to take a back seat in the current agitated public debate on privacy, data protection and cyber mobbing: the increasing commercialisation and gender stereotyping in media products addressed to children.

Professor Gudrun Marci-Boehncke (Technical University of Dortmund) explained in her keynote speech that in respect of media we currently live in a prefigurative culture, i.e. a future-oriented culture in which the old learn from the young and there are no universally valid ideals. Media education, therefore, cannot only be formative. Neither can children’s media consumption go completely unregulated, as that would reinforce social differences regarding education.

In the workshops the participants discussed four different fields of action in which media education takes place.

Media Education in Day-Care Centres, chaired by Günther Thiele(GMK Project Office, Berlin), with Professor Dagmar Beinzger (University of Applied Sciences Esslingen) and Sabine Eder (Blickwechsel e.V., Göttingen): It was established that since media education in day-care centres is characterised by ambiguous requirements for both educators and parents there is a lot of potential for conflict. The recommendation elaborated in the workshop is to pursue an educational partnership in which parents and educators can collaborate as equals.

Media Education in Elementary Schools, chaired by Dr Wolfgang Schill (GMK Project Office, Berlin), with Ilka Goetz (BITS 21) and Markus Schega (Headmaster of "Nürtingen'' Elementary School in Berlin-Kreuzberg): The basic assumption was that a media-related cooperation with parents at schools occurs marginally at best. As recommendation the participants of the workshop established that parents should be involved more strongly in all media education activities at schools and that other educational institutions should be included as well.

Contemporary Concepts of Media-related Cooperation with Parents, chaired by Anja Pielsticker and Renate Rölleke (GMK Office, Bielefeld), with Christina Rhode (Initiative Eltern+Medien, LfM), Johannes Wentzel (Initiative Eltern+Medien) und Elisabeth Ziesel (Elterntalk): Two rather different but very successful approaches of cooperation with parents were introduced in this workshop. 1. In the initiative "Eltern+Medien'' (parents+media) the Media Authority of North Rhine-Westphalia (LfM) and the Grimme Institute hold free parents’ evenings at schools. 2. In the initiative "Elterntalk'' (parent talk) in Bavaria private citizens are trained as "Elterntalk'' moderators organising free round table talks in their communities.

Assisting Media Education in Medical Practice and Psychological Counselling, chaired by Professor Bernward Hoffmann (University of Applied Sciences Münster), with Professor Schulte-Markwort (director of the Clinic for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy in Hamburg-Eppendorf) and Klaus Seifried (director of the School Psychology Advisory Centre in Berlin-Tempelhof/Schönefeld): Apart from examples, that came up in this workshop, of what children see on the internet and try to imitate much to the distress of others, the topic of "internet addiction'' was relativised from the perspective of child and adolescent psychiatry. According to Professor Schulte-Markwort, internet addiction is almost non-existent. The real problems of those diagnosed by laymen as "addicted'' usually lie in other areas, especially the social surroundings. A strong use of the PC is often a symptom of some deficit. It was recommended to choose a multi-professional approach in those cases where this use constitutes a serious problem.

For the concluding panel discussion, chaired by Sabine Eder, the conference organisors got Professor Bernward Hoffmann, Dr Claudia Lampert (Hans-Bredow-Institut, Hamburg), Dr Eveline Maslon (BZgA), Professor Michael Schulte-Markwort and the author of the book Netzgemüse" ("web vegetables'') Tanja Haeusler onto the podium. Mrs Haeusler argued for a stronger regard of the fun factor in media education, accepting the children’s creativity and letting them "kid around'' from time to time. Her advice and all the other recommendations elaborated during the workshop can be applied to all persons who take care of children and adolescents, not just parents, teachers and educators.

For children and adolescents who have no parents or whose parents neglect them, the role of the guardian in matters of media education could be resumed by social workers, if these have been prepared for that role appropriately. The qualification of social workers as media educators of children and adolescents who are particularly at risk is tested and evaluated in the project "SocialWeb - SocialWork'', which is funded in the Safer Internet Programm by the European Commission. Further details can be found here on the project website.

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