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  • Nina Vaaranen-Valkonen

Strengthening media literacy skills through arts and crafts

Updated: Jul 21, 2022


Protect Children organized, together with an art school in Helsinki, an art workshop with a media literacy theme with strong child participation. The participants were children aged 6 to 14. The introduction to media literacy was presented by senior specialist Nina Vaaranen-Valkonen, while a teacher from the art school guided the children’s work.

The art workshop, which utilized a traffic light model, was conducted as part of Protect Children’s activity aimed at strengthening digital safety skills with the help of art. The goal was to have children participate and to bring forth their experiences and voices. The art workshop encouraged children to reflect on their own safe media use with the help of art as well as the traffic light model. While the children painted, they discussed which things for them signal a green light online, things that are pleasant and permitted, but also which things they should be careful with, thus signaling a yellow light. The children also discussed and painted things that signal a red light, the content online that is forbidden and that they find unpleasant or scary.

The art workshop, with its media literacy theme, clearly indicated that children have experience and knowledge of the pleasant content that can be found online, but also of the risks and harmful content. Chain letters, online gaming, contact requests by strangers and tales similar to horror stories were some of the topics that were mentioned during the conversation. There was also discussion about age limits and the importance of adhering to them.

The traffic light model, which was piloted during the art workshop, can now also be found on the new websites of the Online Road Safety project. The traffic light model will be used to create a learning module for educators, but it can also be used as a part of media literacy discussions by parents and professionals working with children and youth. There is also a version of the model for children which can help them reflect on their own media use and learn how to recognize its benefits but also its disadvantages and risks.

During the 1,5 - year long Online Road Safety project, learning modules with tasks will be produced to support early childhood education and media literacy in homes and at schools. The tasks will include up- to-date themes and perspectives on safe media use and digital safety skills. The learning modules with tasks can be utilized in the media literacy work by any professional working with children. They will be a part of the media literacy content aimed at professionals, which will be created throughout the project.


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