I love the children's story Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola. Big Anthony steals Strega Nona's magic pasta pot and her spell to make pasta. Spaghetti fills the pot and spills out on the floor, but he doesn't know how to stop the pasta from growing. It flows through the house, out the door and down the street.
The abundance of media rushes over young people without them even realizing, and they can be swept along in the crush of messages like the spaghetti that flooded this fictional town.
Even though I'm a little older than a digital native, one who was born into this digital age, my experience--and yours--can show the younger generation how to choose media and evaluate media messages. I taught a workshop on this topic at a conference of college-age individuals on New Year's Day and shared three questions to ask to be more conscious about media.
First: Who are you listening to?
Second: What message do you hear?
Third: How does that message influence your choices?
We asked these questions generally and then watched three commercials and asked them again specifcally about each one. Asking questions showed us just how much media we encounter, raised our awareness of the sources of information and caused us to pause to consider the impact of the given message.
It's an exercise any teacher can use in a formal classroom or one all parents can repeat in informal moments at home.