These resources are freely-available professional training materials for librarians and other community professionals interested in media advocacy for parents and caregivers. We have distilled our research data and findings in order to identify four key topic areas around which the trainings are based. They are designed to be flexible: slide decks may be customized, and all individual sessions can run anywhere from 30-60 minutes by including more or less discussion. The trainings can be ‘stacked’ in any order – organizers could run all 3 trainings back-to-back, or they could choose to run a smaller number of trainings, depending on time available.
Goals for Training Sessions
- Empower librarians with tools to talk with parents and other caregivers about digital media and to serve as digital media advocates within their communities
- Provide specific tools for conversations with parents and caregivers about media (e.g. Reference interview questions & responses)
- Share project research findings (training content responds to findings related to parent and professionals’ viewpoints)
- Provide librarians with ideas for collaborating with other professionals in their communities (Programming Training – under development)
Based on our research with parents and community professionals, we identified some common popular narratives about the negative effects of media on children, such as the suggestion that today’s young people are addicted to digital media. This training explores these narratives with particular attention to how these negative perspectives can impact adults’ views of children, ideas about media, and perceptions about the relationship between children and media. With this training participants will practice re-directing conversations with parents/caregivers that involve myths about children’s relationships with digital media. The aim is to make the overall conversation surrounding children and digital media more balanced.
Although most people recognize that all families are different, we still hear a lot of “one-size-fits all” suggestions for family media practices, such as limiting children’s media use to two hours per day, regardless of the type of media or the contexts in which they are used. This training presents data that show how differences in family contexts such as socio-economics, ethnicities, (dis)abilities, location, parents’ work schedules, and religious beliefs can impact family decisions connected with media use. It presents three common media guidance models and provides questions for discussion and critique. The aim of the training is to empower librarians and professionals by providing ways to support parents in their individual decision making as they guide their children’s selection and use of digital media.
Our interviews with librarians in three U.S. states indicate the desire for more professional training in relation to media advocacy with parents, with some librarians indicating they did not have the skills or knowledge to be effective media advocates. This training is designed to address these issues by building on librarians’ experience and expertise connected with reference interviews and book recommendations. It includes an introduction to the concept of “media advocacy” and provides a list of conversation starters for media reference interviews with parents and other caregivers.
Librarians we interviewed asked us for programming ideas! We recognize that media are always changing, and that programming has to respond to specific community needs. This training provides a series of guiding questions for librarians and professionals to create both active and passive programming and to develop media use resources for their specific communities.