(6-8) Media Literacy, Math
Read the following fact to students:
The average 5-year-old will have spent 5,000 hours in front of the TV before entering kindergarten, more time than they will spend in conversation with their parents for the rest of their lives and longer than it would take to get a college degree. (Learn more in the full post on Rethinking Schools.)
- Does this fact surprise you? Why or why not?
- Does this fact disturb you? Why or why not?
- These statistics were gathered in 2012. If they were calculated today, how might the data have changed?
- Do you think that most conversations take place digitally in today’s world?
- What impact do you think digital media has on our communication skills?
Discuss the role that screen-based media plays in their lives and examples of how use of digital technology continues to grow at a rapid pace in our society.
Complete a class survey by recording:
- the total number of screens in students’ homes
- the total number of students who have their own cell phone
- the total number of hours per day they estimate they use digital media for entertainment
- the total number of hours per day they spend researching and preparing work for school
Review various graphing methods and have students work as a class to help you prepare a graph or chart that represents the information above. Have students extend their exploration by taking the number of hours per day and then calculating and graphing the number of hours per week, month, or year spent with digital entertainment and/or educational learning. Share the finished products.
- Were you surprised by the data we collected? Why or why not?
- Do you think the information we graphed today is typical for students your age? Why or why not?
- How has this data changed since the pandemic?
Revisit the fact you shared at the beginning and invite students to consider what could get done in a day, week, month, or year with the number of hours represented in their graphs. Invite them to add callouts or other features to their graphs to represent their thinking.
Explain that this activity was designed to get young people thinking about their use of digital media and also to help them balance their passive and active time.
Close by brainstorming things that they like to do that are “Screen-Free.” Encourage students to balance their leisure time accordingly.
Note: It might be interesting to share these surveys, charts, and graphs with other staff members or parents.