45 Family Media Literacy Activities to Grow Smart Brains in a Digital Age – Help All in One Place

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What is “media literacy?” The word literacy connotes a high degree of competency and usually means that a person knows how to read and write. A literate person, on the other hand, is well read, using and applying high level thinking skills across a broad range of topics. Computer literacy means the capacity to use computers well. Media literacy, then, is the ability to use all forms of media well. A media-literate person uses television, movies, DVDs, computer and video games for specific purposes, just as a print-literate person reads a book or a magazine, a college text or a newspaper for specific, various reasons.

Using all visual screen technology intentionally is the first, and most important element in becoming media literate. Ultimately as parents we want children and teens to be in control of small screens and not be controlled by them. Research has verified and experts know that a child who mindlessly watches a lot of TV or plays video games endlessly is less equipped to develop the capacities for wise media use. A media literate child, on the other hand, would learn to self-monitor screen time-being able to take it in doses-rather than make a habit of it four-five hours a day ad nauseum. He or she would want to do other activities because thinking, creative children are curious beings and there’s a whole world out there to explore-screen technologies just being one small part of it.

While a print-literate person reads words; a media literate person reads images. Using analysis, evaluation, and higher level thinking skills, a media-literate person interprets the subtle messages and overt claims visual messages convey. This is where we want our children headed-in a direction of making it second nature to think well about all forms of media images.

If we boiled down media literacy for our children, I think we would find five basic skills that we would like them to acquire:

• Conscious, intentional, limited use of all forms of screen technology

• Ability to critique visual messages and understand their intent and intellectual and emotional impact

• Ability to communicate facts, ideas, and thoughtful opinions about media images

• A thorough understanding of media production techniques to fully appreciate how such techniques as camera angles, lighting, cuts, etc. impact the messages being delivered

• Ability to use all forms of screen technology purposefully, and eventually wisely

Children can enjoy becoming media literate. The 45 family media literacy activities are grouped as follows:

30 General activities that you can adapt and use with children or teens.

15 Activities for children, specifically designed for children, ages 3-6

30 General Family Media Literacy Activities

1. TV and books.

Keep track of the dates when a TV version of a book is scheduled to air and encourage your kids to read the book first, or follow up the program by suggesting they read the book afterwards. Great discussions can result from comparing the original book and the TV version.

2. Use TV to expand children’s interests.

Link TV programs with your children’s interests, activities, and hobbies. A child interested in crafts can watch craft programs for encouragement and ideas; after viewing a wildlife show, take the kids to a zoo and have them recall what they learned about animals from the TV program. How does the real life experience differ from the show they watched? Are there any similarities?

3. Time capsule.

Ask your child to imagine that he or she has been given the job of choosing five television programs that will be included in a time capsule, not to be opened for one hundred years. Discuss what type of society these shows might reflect to a child opening the time capsule one hundred years from now.

4. Different viewpoints.

All family members watch one program together. The TV is then turned off and each person writes a few sentences about their opinions about the show. Discuss and compare everyone’s opinions, pointing out to your child how different people will like or dislike the same program. Why are all opinions valid? Who had the most persuasive opinion about the show? Why?

5. Watch a TV show being taped.

Take kids to a television program taping either locally or as part of a family trip to New York or Los Angeles. To make the trip more meaningful, have your children draw the set, take notes on the format of the show, note the special effects, and talk about what it was like being in the audience. Is the audience important to the show? How? (It may be easier to visit a local TV or radio station. You could visit both and talk about the differences between them.)

6. Make up an alternate title.

When you’re watching a TV program or movie with your child, ask him or her to exercise imagination and think of another title. To get things rolling, suggest an alternate title yourself. All family members can come up with as many alternates as possible. Vote on the best. What makes it better than all the rest to convey the essence of the show or film?

7. Compare what you see with what you expect.

With your child, come up with a description of a show before watching it, based on what you’ve read in a TV schedule. Predict how the characters will act and how the plot will unfold. When the program ends, take a few minutes to talk about what you saw: Did either of you notice any differences between what was written in the TV schedule and what was actually shown? Were either of you surprised by anything you saw? Is the show what you expected it would be? Why or why not?

8. Which category does it fit?

Using a television guide, your child will list all the shows she or he watches, then divide them into the following categories: comedy, news, cartoons, sitcoms, dramas, soap operas, police shows, sporting events, educational programs, and documentaries. Which is her or his favorite category and show? Why?

9. Predict what will happen.

During commercial breaks, ask your child to predict what will happen next in the program. You can discuss such questions as: If you were the scriptwriter, how would you end this story? What do you think the main characters will do next? Is it easy or difficult to guess the main event in this program? Why or why not?

10. The guessing game.

Turn off the volume but leave the picture on. See if your child can guess what is happening. To extend this into a family game, have everyone pick a TV character and add his/her version of that character’s words.

11. Letter writing.

Encourage your child to write letters to TV stations, describing why s/he likes and dislikes certain programs. Emphasize that giving factual and specific information will be helpful.

12. Be a camera operator.

Have your child experiment with a video camera to learn how it can manipulate a scene (omission-what it leaves out; selection-what it includes; close-up-what it emphasizes; long shot-what mood it establishes; length of shot-what’s important and what’s not).

13. Theme songs.

Help your child identify the instruments and sound effects used in the theme songs of his favorite shows. Have her sing or play the music in the show and explain what the music is doing. Does it set a mood? How? Does it tell a story? How does it make him/her feel?

14. Sequence the plot: a game.

To help your child understand logical sequencing, ask her to watch a TV show while you write down its main events, jotting each event on a separate card. At the completion of the program, shuffle the cards and ask your child to put them in the same order in which they appeared during the program. Discuss any lapses in logical sequence.

15. A time chart.

Your child will keep a time chart for one week of all of her activities, including TV watching, movie watching, and playing video games. Compare the time spent on these activities and on other activities, such as playing, homework, organized sports, chores, hobbies, visiting friends, and listening to music. Which activities get the most time? The least? Do you or your child think the balance should be altered? Why or why not?

16. Winning and losing.

Tell your child to watch a sports program and list all the words that are used to describe winning and losing. Encourage a long list. You can make this into a friendly competition, if you like, with two or more children collecting words from several sports programs and then reading them aloud.

17. TV and radio.

While watching TV coverage of a sports game, turn off the TV sound and have your child simultaneously listen to radio coverage. What does your child think about the radio coverage? About the TV coverage? What are the strengths of each? The weaknesses?

18. Quiz show comparison.

Compare and contrast the wide variety of game and quiz shows with your child. You’ll see shows that test knowledge, shows that are based on pure luck, and shows that are aimed specifically at children. Which are your child’s favorites? Why?

19. TV lists.

Assist your child in making lists of all television programs that involve hospitals, police stations, schools, and farms, and all television programs that contain imaginative elements, such as science fiction shows or cartoons.

20. Television vocabulary.

Challenge your child to listen for new words on TV and report back to the family on their definitions.

21. Critical viewing survey.

Ask your child to watch one of his favorite programs with you. Afterwards, you will both fill out the following survey. Then compare your answers. Are they different? Why? Are there right or wrong answers, or is much of what was recorded open to individual interpretation?

Critical Viewing Survey

Program watched:

Characters (List three to five and describe briefly):

Setting (Time and place):

Problems/Conflicts:

Plot (List three to five events in order of occurrence):

Story theme:

Solution:

Logic (Did the story make sense? Would this have happened in real life?):

Rating of the show (from one to ten, with ten being the highest):

22. Body language.

Observe body language in commercials and/or TV shows and films. Notice head position, hand gestures, and eye movement. How does body language affect how you feel about the intended visual or verbal message? Children could cut out postures and expressions from print advertisements (magazines and newspapers) and see if they can find those postures and expressions on TV or in movies. How important is body language to convey persuasive visual messages?

23. Variations on a story.

Look at how a particular story is handled differently by different channels. Use videotaped shows to compare. What are the differences? What are the similarities?

24. Quick problem solving.

Point out to your child how quick problems are solved on many TV shows. Discuss the differences in dealing effectively with challenges in real life. You may want to include in your discussion what processes you go through to identify, confront, and resolve problems.

25. Put words in their mouth.

As a family watch a favorite program with the sound off. Try to figure out what each of the characters in the show is saying. Discuss why you believe that based on past knowledge of the program and how the characters are behaving. Encourage your child to think about how he or she would write the script for each of the characters. What are the important things that they say? Why are these considered important?

26. Make your own family TV Guide.

Gather your child/ren and ask them to make a family TV Guide for the upcoming week. What programs would they include? What programs would they make sure not to include? Ask them to give reasons for their choices.

27. Thinking ahead to predict what might happen.

This is a great activity for school-age children who may need guidance in watching their favorite programs while you can’t be there with them. Give your child a written list of 3-5 general questions that they can read before they watch a TV show. Consider such questions as: “What do you think this program will be about? What do you anticipate the main character’s troubles will be? How will he/she resolve them? Why are you watching this show and not doing something else?” Instruct your child to think about the questions while viewing-no need to write anything down-just think. As your child watches, he/she won’t be able to stop thinking about these questions-it’s just how the brain works. Intermittently, ask your child to discuss the TV program with you, along with how this activity helps to think about the program!

28. Ask: “What will happen next?”

This is a simple, yet effective activity. Mute the commercials while your family watches TV together and ask each child and adult what he/she thinks will happen next. There are no right or wrong answers! This gives everyone a chance to engage in creative interplay and then to test his/her “hypothesis” when the show resumes. Children may learn just how predictable and mundane a lot of programs are and soon improve on the scriptwriters, adding their own creative ideas!

29. Record your child’s favorite show.

Then play it back during a long car trip or around a cozy fireplace on a dark winter evening. The purpose of this activity would be for your child to hear the program, without seeing the visuals. Talk about how the characters and their actions change as a result of only hearing the show. Does your child have to listen more intently? Why or why not? What are some crucial distinctions between watching and listening?

30. Encourage your child or teen to be a media creator.

Ultimately what we want is for our children to find ways to creatively express who they are. You can encourage a child to use a digital camera and make a photo collage of a family trip, for instance. Older children and teens can create websites, blogs, even podcasts. Screen technologies are powerful tools and when used intentionally, with specific purposes, our children become media-literate in the process of learning more about their own creativity and unique skills.

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15 Media Activities for Children, ages 3-6

Screen Violence

1. Talk about real-life consequences.

If the screen violence were happening in real life, how would the victim feel? In real life what would happen to the perpetrator of the violence. Compare what’s on the screen to the consequences of what happens when someone hurts another person in the real world.

2. Violence is not the way to solve problems.

Emphasize that hurting another person in any way or destroying property is wrong and won’t solve a person’s problems. Point out to your child that many of the violent cartoon characters never seem to solve their problems from episode to episode, and that to use violence is to act without thinking of the consequences. Tell your child it’s powerful and smart to find peaceful, creative ways to solve problems with other human beings. Choose a problem your child encountered recently such as another child taking a toy away and talk about the reasonable way the problem was resolved or could have been resolved-without hurting.

3. Anger is natural.

Talk about the fact that we all get angry, that it’s normal. It’s what we do with our anger-how we cope with it and express it-that’s important. When screen characters hurt people out of anger, it’s because they have not learned how to deal with their anger. Your child could make a list of screen characters who know how to deal with their anger in positive ways.

4. Count the number of violent acts.

While watching a favorite cartoon with your child, count the number of actual violent actions. Point out that these are harmful to others and you would never allow him/her to do such things to others. Total the number of violent actions at the end of the program and ask your child if he/she thought there were that many. Decide not to watch cartoons or any shows with such violent actions.

5. Talk about real and pretend.

If your child is exposed to a violent movie or video game, it is especially important to talk with him/her about the fact that the images were pretend-like when your child plays pretend and that no one was actually hurt. Make it a common practice to talk about the differences between real and pretend with any TV programs, movies, your child watches. Understanding this concept basic to becoming media-literate!

Screen Advertising

6. Blind taste test.

Show your child how she can test the claims of commercials. Have her do a blind taste test. It can be done with a wide range of foods such as three or four kinds of soda pop, spaghetti sauce, cereal-your child’s favorites. Are the products as great as the commercials claimed? Can she tell the difference between a generic brand and a famous one? Can she identify products by name? Do the commercials make products seem different than they really are? Why or why not? This is a fun activity to do with several children. Have a taste test party!

7. Draw pictures of a feeling.

Suggest that your child draw a picture depicting how he feels after watching two different types of TV commercials. What are the differences between the pictures? Discuss your child’s feelings about the different commercial messages. Picture the buyer. Younger children can watch a commercial and then draw a picture of the type of person they think will buy the product. After discussing the child’s picture, explain how various audience appeals are used in commercials to attract specific audiences.

8. Cartoon ads.

While watching cartoons, your child can look for specific cartoon characters that appear in popular commercials. Explain the differences between the commercial and the cartoon: In the commercial, the character sells a product; in the cartoon, the character entertains us. The next time she watches TV, have her report to you if she sees any cartoon characters selling products.

9. The toy connection.

When visiting a toy store, you and your child can look for toys that have been

advertised on TV or promoted by TV personalities. Point out to him how the toys advertised on TV initially seem more attractive than those he hasn’t seen advertised.

10. Invent a character.

Your child can pick a product, such as a favorite cereal, and create an imaginary character that can be used to sell the product. He/she could draw a picture or role-play the character. Or, using puppets, stage an imaginative commercial for a made-up product. Afterwards discuss with your child what she or he did to tell people about the product. Watch a few commercials and point out basic selling techniques such as making the product looking larger than life, repeating a jingle, and showing happy children using the product.

Screen News

TV news contains elements that may not be appropriate for young children. As much as possible, watch news when your child is in bed or not in the room. Protect your little one from graphic images and topics that she/he is not ready to handle cognitively or emotionally.

Screen Stereotypes

11. Not better, just different.

Children are never too young to start learning the message that differences do not make anyone better than anyone else. Point out how each family member has his or her own individual preferences, habits, ideas, and behaviors. Differences make us all unique and interesting. When your child sees a racist or sexist stereotype on the screen, explain that the writers of the script made an error in portraying the character in that light.

12. Change the picture.

Play a game with your child: When she encounters a screen stereotype, ask her whether other types of people could play that role. For instance, if the secretary is a young woman, explain that men are secretaries, too, and that many older women are very competent secretaries.

13. Girls, boys, and toys.

As you walk through a toy store, point out various toys to your child, asking each time whether the toy is made for a boy or a girl. Ask if any child could just as well play with the toy. Encourage your child to find toys that would be fun for girls and boys to play with. Then, when your child sees toy commercials on TV, point out whether only little boys or little girls are playing with the toys.

14. Play: Who is missing?

Often what children see on the screen does not represent all nationalities and the diversity he or she encounters in preschool, kindergarten, or on the playground. While watching favorite cartoons or movies with your child, discuss who is missing-such as an older person; a disabled person, or a person of a certain race or nationality. You can also discuss what types of people your child encounters more often on the screen-young, glamorous, happy white people usually take up the majority of the visual images with men outnumbering women 3 to 1!

15. Model discussion of screen stereotypes.

When your family watches a favorite TV program or a popular DVD, you can help your youngster identify stereotypical roles, behaviors, and attitudes by holding family conversations to involve your spouse and/or older children. While watching the program or movie, the adults and the older children take notes, tracking whenever they spot a stereotype of age, gender, or race. After watching, turn off the TV/VCR and discuss everyone’s observations. Using each family member’s notes, compile a master list of the stereotypical statements and portrayals that were noted. This discussion can be made more interesting if you taped the program (or replay the DVD in appropriate scene/s), so you can refer back to it as family members discuss the stereotypes they spotted. Your little one will listen to this family media literacy conversation and absorb important information while the others share their ideas.

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The Indian Media Fraternity

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The Indian media fraternity comprises of several components. These include newspapers, magazines, tabloids, TV, radio and the internet. Of late, internet has witnessed the most amounts of investments and is being called the sunrise sector of Indian media. Today, almost all news can be got instantly from the internet as and when they happen. News in India is mostly made up of the day to day happenings of the Indian community as well as all over the world.

Indian media has existed in the country ever since the 18th century. Radio was first introduced by the British and news broadcast stared started almost immediately. Notable Indian luminaries contributed to the growth of Indian radio and this important component of Indian media has been around for almost a century now.

A recent study on the media of India has revealed that over a 100 million daily newspapers were bought in the country. This has made India the second largest newspaper market in the world. In fact, the Indian news industry has grown hugely over the last decade. This is partly because of the fact that TV has made huge inroads in the house of the average Indian. There are more than 1400 companies in the country today that’s making TV sets. This, on its part, has made India the fourth largest TV market. This is mostly stemmed from the fact that the Indian media operates in country that has a huge population. Besides the print and electronic media, internet has gained immense ground, as already said, and has reached almost every nook and corner of the country. Online news has emerged as a quick and efficient method of catering news in the Indian media industry.

Like most other countries, news in Indian media is almost instantaneously catered to the audience via the TV channels. This enables the media of India to reach out to the largest possible audience at one go.

Another important facet of the media of India is the publication of vernacular newspapers. India has linguistic states and each state has several vernacular newspapers catering news, views, information and opinion of local and regional interest to people of that particular state. Many states have their local English dailies as well that mostly caters to the urban and the semi-urban class.

Since the early and the mid-1990s, radio in India has been mostly powered by the FM channels. The FM transmissions transformed the radio from a fading media to a really vibrant one. The FM transmission is mostly entertainment oriented although the government-run stations broadcasts news and information of social importance.

It can be said sans any doubt that the media of India would take a quantum leap in the coming years powered by the internet and TV.

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Is the Long Island Medium SCRIPTED? Caution! What You Must Know About Psychics on TV

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How accurate are the readings on the Long Island Medium? Do they truly reflect the reality of the readings done, or are they edited to look or appear better than they really are? And are ANY of the TV programs that feature live mediums a good way of gauging how accurate they truly are….or do you need to go and see the psychic in person to know for sure? In this article we take a closer look at both the Long Island Medium TV show, and the truth about how many psychic TV programs (and other reality shows) are produced for the masses. Curious to know more? Continue reading as we take a closer look below!

But first… understand this to be true, because it is:

The psychic featured on the show, Theresa Caputo, has had a long history of offering some amazing readings in some pretty public places, WELL before she became well known, famous and a household name based on the TV show. As a matter of fact, as someone who publishes lots of information in the psychic “space”, I heard her on the radio many times when she was a relative unknown Long Island psychic medium, and her live appearances on the “Forever Family Foundations” website (a non profit organization that offers help to grieving families who have lost a loved one) always intrigued me as as result of her accuracy.

So she had already demonstrated a level of psychic ability beyond the average, even for professional mediums, and this certainly contributed to her appeal and rapid growth in psychic stature and popularity.

Next, understand THIS to be true as well… because it is!

TV is a very difficult medium (no pun intended!) to judge when it comes to “reality” of any kind. You have to remember that the people who push and publish these programs are about the 3 critical bottom line metrics for successful television – viewers, advertisers and dollars. They aren’t interested in how accurate (or honest) the readings are, nor are they concerned if editing the readings Ms. Caputo offers are done in a way that satisfies psychic believers OR skeptics.

They want viewers, plain and simple. And it’s NO secret that the more “unbelievably impressive” the readings are, the more viewers will tune in. So my feeling is always to watch these sorts of shows with a little bit of a skeptical eye, simply because unless you see an entire reading in an unedited fashion, it’s difficult to really judge how accurate it really was.

(I certainly don’t believe anyone “cheats” in any deliberate way, but to omit “misses” and only include the “hits” would certainly be something I’d expect, just because it makes for better TV)

Speaking with John Edward a while back in a small group setting…

He said the real reason he wouldn’t go back on TV when asked, was that he did NOT want to do a “reality based” show on his life, and simply wanted to give readings for an audience in front of a crowd or small group. According to his remarks, the TV executives didn’t think that made for the type of TV most people want to see these days, and are equally as interested in the back story, as they are in the actual psychic readings. (which seems to be the case with most reality TV programming these days… at least the popular shows we all know)

So what does that mean overall?

I say, keep an open mind, but always know that what you are watching is edited. Not necessarily in a bad way…..but any sort of editing, if you are a psychic “snob” like me, changes something about how seriously I can take the information that comes through. But for entertainment purposes…the Long Island Medium is A LOT of fun, and having seen Theresa Caputo do all sorts of other interviews as well, I think she deserves the success, too!

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What Is Smart TV?

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The very latest waves of Flat Screen Digital TVs hitting our shores this year are being marketed as “Smart TVs”. What does this mean, and what benefits do they have? Let’s try and explain this concept in a simplified manner.

First – A very quick history on TV evolution

Television technology has advanced rapidly over the years, progressing from the basic “Square” 4:3 Analogue CRT Tube. The introduction and sharp rise in popularity of DVD then saw the implementation of widescreen TVs to suit this format. As the trend towards viewing movies in widescreen digital became the standard, similar steps had to be made for day to day Television viewing. So the integration of digital set top boxes began, and our Television networks began to broadcast our TV programs in digital to coincide with that. As the public began to embrace the “cinema” experience, the next natural progression was larger screens, so Plasma, LCD and later LED panels were introduced. In the years that followed, besides obvious improvements in clarity, sound & design, the only major change made to TV technology was size – demand called for bigger and thinner TVs. Over the last year or so, the introduction of 3D Technology was the next “big-thing”, as well the call for more eco-friendly panels.

So we’ve seen TV’s develop from a bulky, square Picture Tube with a choice of five stations to view in analogue, to large, ultra-slim, Full High Definition panels capable of displaying 3D images, and a choice of over twenty channels broadcasting many programs in widescreen digital. Add to that a very sharp decline in price, and an ever increasing focus on environmentally friendly performance – we’ve certainly come a long way. So where to from here?

Introducing Smart TVs…

The internet is now a dominant part of our daily existence. Our mobile phones have now evolved from devices used just for making phone calls into “Smart-Phones” – basically mobile phones with internet accessibility. The same technology has filtered through to our TVs, and coined the phrase – “Smart TVs”. Today’s new waves of Smart TVs have a very large focus on online interactive media such as Internet   TV ,  media  streaming, social networking and web browsing. In a Similar way to how internet browsing, web widgets and software like games or applications are integrated in today’s smartphones, the same trend towards such connectivity has now become part of today’s TVs, creating a convergence between computers and Digital TV. Smart TVs allow viewers to search for and find movies, video clips and photos on the internet, stored on a home hard drive, through to your TV, using your remote control.

Smart TVs will eventually change the way we access media in our homes

This convenience will eventually change the way we access media in our homes, or more precisely, from where we access our media. One example would be not having to run down to our local video stores anymore just to rent a movie. By pressing a couple of buttons on our TV remote we suddenly have access to hundreds of movies available for streaming from the comfort of our lounge. Applications (or “Apps” as they are commonly referred to) add yet another facet for us to explore. There are a limitless number of apps that can be created. If you are an I-Phone user, you will already have encountered dozens upon dozens of ingenious applications that you now find hard to live without. There are apps for everything, ranging from live weather and news forecasts, to TV Show catch-up episodes, the latest sports news for your favourite team as well as live scores, and of course the whole social media forum such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. These are now right at your fingertips, transforming TVs into a very diverse media network. The ability to Skype call is also an option, with the aid of a brand-specific Skype camera. While a small number of these features, in some form, have been available over the last year from some television manufacturers, in 2011 we will see the introduction of unrestricted web-browsing in some models. This opens up a limitless array of possibilities by transforming your TV into a fully functional web browser.

Smart TVs – Bringing the internet into your lounge room

There is a distinct advantage of not having to take the effort to boot up your PC, which is usually located in another room, to perform tasks such as purchasing items on eBay, checking your E-mail, or to Google something that has just taken your interest on TV. With large high definition screens, and web pages fully optimised to suit, there is certainly a distinct advantage in browsing the internet from the comfort of your lounge instead of through a little laptop screen or sitting at your computer desk. Even if you have photos, music, movies or video files stored on your home computer, you can access all of these wirelessly through your Home network and stream them directly to your TV.

So, in summary…

Smart TVs are the next generation of Flat Screen Digital Television, merging your TV and computer’s functionality into one.

With the ability to stream high definition movies, connect with your friends using Facebook and Twitter, stream TV Shows, and get instant access to news, sport and weather – all from the comfort of your lounge and on a large High Definition TV screen. Some of the higher end Digital TV models will offer built in web browsers – opening up unrestricted web browsing directly to your Television Set. As Plasma and LED Screens have evolved to become thinner, more energy efficient and providing us with stunning Full High Definition clarity. We now have a limitless array of media applications opened up to us, providing us with versatility and cross functional capability like we have never had before.

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Best Media Player For Your New 1080p High Definition Television

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This Christmas a lot of people rewarded themselves with a new 1080p HDTV. Sure it is possible to use your existing DVD player or get a shiny new Blu-ray player to use with your new TV. But what is really the best media player for your new system?

Some say an HD media player would be the best choice. These are the size of an external hard drive and play audio and video from USB storage media. There are many different brands to choose from but for an example we’ll use the popular WD TV HD Media Player by Western Digital.

With this device you can play content from any connected USB drive in full HD 1080p with DTS 2.0 digital sound. It plays most audio and video formats and allows you to browse and organize your files from the easy to use interface. You can also transfer and organize files from a digital camera or camcorder. In order to use the media player an additional USB hard drive is required. The unit itself does not come with storage capacity. By using external drives the storage capacity is unlimited. There are many other HD Media Players with similar features.

The newer models also come with streaming media. There are many different brands that offer streaming HD, including D-Link, ASUS, MvixUSA, and Buffalo Link Theater. So what is streaming media? Streaming media is a player with an Internet connection. Some use an Ethernet connection and some are wireless. Either way this should allow us to access all of the media on our computers and network and organize, play, and view files.

So what can we do with these players? We can stream movies and TV shows that we have downloaded from the Internet, as well as watch You Tube videos, listen to our music files, listen to Internet radio, and view our photos and videos on the large screen. If we are entertaining we can set up a cool media show on our set to play in the background, no more burning log DVDs. In the future these devices should continue to improve but for now these are inexpensive and a great way to organize and enjoy your media collection.

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Streaming Media Players – Top 3 Been Purchased Online

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Streamers (the tiny popular black boxes) are the new rage and are becoming more and more available, with a huge choice the price is also dropping dramatically with competition, which is fantastic news for consumers. Everyone wants the best and highest quality but would also like the most valuable and smallest price, and gladly, this is very possible. Here, are the top three Streamer Media Players been purchased today!

No 3 Sony BDP-S570 3D Blu-ray Disc Player

The BDP-S570 is the new and improved model of the Sony BDP-S300 Blu Ray Disk player wi. The fast load system is excellent and much faster than the older 300s models. The set up is equally as simple and straight forward, and access to Netflix, Amazon Video on Demand, You Tube, etc. is at the click of a button.

The picture and sound is fantastic, and there are no lag times in watching anything, and the increased speed in the network allows true High Definition playbacks. Though this is a very popular streamer been purchased at the moment, at $150 I still believe there are better quality streamers available at a cheaper price.

No 2 Apple TV MC572LL/A

This is the system I personally own (so I will try not to be biased ha!) This is the latest from Apple (2010) and is an amazing compliment to your home theater. It has so many features, yet so simple to use, allowing you to stream whatever is on your iTunes to your TV and home theater system. It has built in support for Netflix, You Tube and a few other internet based media content providers and the picture quality is superb.

The menu is very simple – Movies, TV, Internet, Computer and the settings allows you to change the various Apple TV options. At under $100, the Apple TV is competitively priced with other streaming options.

No 1 Roku XD Streaming Player 1080p

Roku players are quite possibly the most bought streamers been purchased online and are one of Amazons top sellers. This little box allows you to instantly stream tons of entertainment on your TV, watch over 100,000 movies and TV shows from Netflix, Amazon Video On Demand, Hulu Plus and more.

The set up is extremely easy. You can listen to almost any radio station in the country free and watch YouTube clips on your big TV as well as send the sound to your stereo system. The Roku Remote is simple to use and it provides access to NetFlix suggested titles and search.

These are a nifty little box alright and at a price of $79.99 you can see why they are the most popular Streamers been purchased, so cheap and great value.

I hope this article can help you decide on a Streamer Player, but remember to do your research before purchasing, reading reviews may help but for every great review, there is always somebody who has has a bad experience.

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Civility in the Media

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In my forty years of broadcasting experience, I’ve fielded thousands of questions about my work; topics include covering news, anchoring programs, interviewing world leaders and celebrities, and yes, the glamor and excitement of it all. But I can’t remember anyone-whether on a street, in a classroom, or at a dinner party-ever questioning how news people behaved, or whether that behavior reflects our society.

In my earliest days behind a microphone, I worked at a small radio station while finishing high school. That’s where I began learning the very foundations of journalism-accuracy, truth and fairness. Those principles have always stayed with me, from serving as a news assistant for the legendary Walter Cronkite at CBS to the unique public responsibility of owning a group of radio stations.

From the moment that I walked into that newsroom at WKRO Radio in Boston, I knew I was in a different world-clearly, a strange place where all the stress of society found a home. As a kid from Nashua, New Hampshire, just out of college, I was about to get my first lesson in professional journalism. Newsrooms became my second home, and some of the characters in them were priceless mentors to me.

TV News & Decreasing Standards of Civility

The newsrooms where I have worked, for the most part, did not fit common definitions of civility. They’re generally loud, peppered with colorful language, and rarely well-organized; most are littered with used coffee cups, pizza boxes, and newspapers. It’s always been a wonder to me that somehow, this environment manages to lead to creativity and responsibility in communicating with a mass audience.

What a rich heritage we have in broadcasting, from Edward R. Murrow and Peter Jennings to Walter Cronkite, once voted the most trusted man in America. Remember Chet Huntley and David Brinkley? It was nice to hear them say, “goodnight, Chet,” and “goodnight, David.” They were our heroes, and we stand on their shoulders.

There were also rules in the early days of broadcasting – unwritten for the most part – that reflected the kind of society we were, and the standards we respected. To me, history and tradition are marvelous teachers. I wish young people heading into our business would spend as much time studying the events and personalities of the past as they do on technology and social media.

Why We Should Be Careful On Air

When we hit the air and go into millions of homes, it has to be with respect for those who watch and listen. We should be careful not to offend in any way and always aware of the trust placed in us. At times, however, politeness bumps up against the demands of reporting and the urgency to get the facts ahead of everyone else.

We all have seen instances where a reporter will stick a microphone in the face of a person in anguish who has just lost a friend or relative, to ask questions that violate their privacy and make viewers squirm. How can we balance civility and privacy with the aggressiveness of a reporter and the immediacy of television?

Sometimes, Attempts to be Civil Do Not Work

And yet, there are times when an attempt at civility doesn’t work at all on the air. A number of years ago, we began introducing reporters live at the scene of a story by saying, “good evening,” and they would reply the same. It was a nice touch, a display of politeness between the anchor and reporter. But you can imagine how awkward that is when the story is a fire, a murder, or any event that’s anything *but *good.

The same standards of civility don’t apply to every situation. While I believe positive stories should have a bigger presence on our screens and in our lives, it’s impossible to avoid tragic events altogether. When we do need to report on something that has disastrous repercussions for other living, breathing human beings, we must practice sensitivity. We must assume that a missing woman’s family is hearing our every word, or that our reports are being broadcast straight to the town affected by a natural disaster. When we cover a newsworthy event with many casualties, we should think less about the salacious details and more about the victims, who deserve our respect and whose loved ones need us to tell the truth, not to sensationalize or speculate or glorify.

Historic Events that Shifted the Tide

On the air, Edward R. Murrow often referred to members of his reporting staff as “Mister Collingwood” or “Mister Severeid.” This was civility with a touch of dignity. And there was more. For example, it was unthinkable for a journalist to interrupt a president while speaking. At that time it was considered rude, uncivil.

The media aside, other things were different too. Men tipped their hats to women; kids obeyed their parents and cops on the street. For our purposes, it would be foolish to attempt to pinpoint a time when the country changed. Historians might say we lurched from one traumatic event to another.

In television terms, it was the equivalent of a sharp, jolting cut from the Kennedy presidency to the years of civil rights demonstrations, from the murders of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. to protests against the Vietnam War.

As these stories of anger and bloodshed were brought into America’s living rooms, lives were being turned upside down across the country. The civility we once had-however minute-was lost as a generation embraced a new culture on the streets and campuses, reflecting the turbulence of the era.

About that same time in broadcasting, the peacefulness of Sunday morning- usually reserved for religious broadcasts-slowly disappeared. Some may still remember “The Eternal Light”, “Lamp Unto My Feet”, and other award-winning broadcasts. Now, of course, we have non-stop political shouting programs and other talk shows on the networks and on cable. The programming has changed.

And through the years-through tough economic times, wars, national upheavals, and natural disasters-Americans have suffered, but we’ve always bounced back. So, as the pendulum of our lives went from one extreme to another, so did our civility.

The State of Media Today

It is easy to paint a negative picture of civil life right now. Gridlock in Washington, guns on the streets, terrorism, unemployment, and foreclosures are just a few of the challenges we face as a nation. And we’ve managed to keep some degree of civility, but we can do better.

In order to consider the overall picture of civility in today’s media, it’s inevitable that we’ll have to spend a few minutes on reality shows, as well as the unrelenting bombardment of instant information and entertainment from cable TV and the Internet.

From the Kardashians to Jersey Shore, when we turn on the TV, our children are mesmerized by lifestyles that encourage drinking, bad behavior, unhealthy habits and a lack of respect for family values. And that’s just early in the day. Evening programming, aimed at a more mature age group, brings us such “memorable” shows as the Real Housewives installments, Mob Wives, Dance Moms, Repo Men, and Bridezillas, all of which encourage conflict, drama, disrespect, and even crime. And then there are channels devoted to just about any kind of hobby or strange occupation.

Then there’s YouTube, an outlet for video from the sublime to the ridiculous. It’s always on, and there are always people watching from every part of the world. Unfortunately, I must add, too many of the videos on YouTube also find their way onto news programs, just because of how bizarre-and usually uncivil-they are.

Well, like anything, there’s good and bad. Cable and satellite technology do have a positive side. There are many quality channels that are educational and carry excellent, inspirational programs. We also have channels that provide community access and allow us to watch local government in action.

At home, we are taught at an early age how to behave in speech and in manners. But media and technology have changed our culture. The violence we see in movies has be
en carried out inside movie theaters too, hit music fills the radio waves with demeaning lyrics, tabloid magazines and TV devote more time to celebrities’ bizarre choices, and all of this contributes in some way to a breakdown in society.

And now, another factor has become part of the equation. A survey of 1,000 American adults, taken by the public relations firm Weber Shandwick, found the level of civility has suffered further because of our country’s ongoing financial troubles. 49% of those questioned consider American CEOs uncivil. Given the Madoff scandal and the low level of trust in Wall Street, they certainly have a point. At the same time, the survey showed 81% of Americans hold the news media responsible for improving the way we treat each other. And so, in these early years of the 21st century, we are faced with a serious challenge.

Civility & Truth

Now, a few words about the blogosphere and social media. As someone who has spent his entire life in journalism, I strongly defend freedom of speech. But I believe that civility and truth go hand in hand. So at this point, I want to raise a red flag. When it comes to news, the key question is: what’s your source? Who *told *you this information? If the reply is a common one-“I saw it online”-then beware. The Internet is not necessarily the ultimate source for truth.

And with the incredible speed and universal access of social media sites such as Twitter, news reporters have to be more careful than ever to sort out the truth, to get to the facts. More often these days, civility and truth disappear when the Internet is used as a playground for rumor mongers, hateful bloggers, and cyber-bullies. We’ve all witnessed the dangers attached to social media, mainly the horror of teenagers committing suicide because of cyber-bullying that followed them home on their smartphones and laptops.

A survey conducted by Consumer Reports last year showed that 1 million American children were harassed, threatened, or targeted by hurtful comments and rumors. Teenage girls were more likely than boys to suffer this unimaginable experience. Social media is relatively young and has a role to play in society, but it has shown that it must be watched carefully. Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker put it this way: “The greatest threat to civility is the pandering to ignorance, the elevation of nonsense and the distribution of false information.”

Ernie and the Big Newz: the Book’s Message

We must find ways to turn down the volume of our national discourse and stop rewarding bad behavior, especially that of celebrities who fail as role models for our children. Those of us in the media-especially in the news business-have an obligation to society to clear the air. Adults want that. Even kids look for it.

I regularly speak at local schools, and while the feedback and reaction is terrific, it is also eye-opening. Many young children tell me that they feel the only way they can become part of a news broadcast is to do something wrong, something bad.

It is really no surprise, because it’s what they see when they watch the news. We mostly reward bad behavior. I believe that kind of thinking has to stop. I am deeply concerned about the unfortunate news events we cannot control and must report, which impacts everyone, especially children.

So in response to hundreds of comments from adults and young people about the shortage of positive news stories, I wrote an upbeat children’s book called Ernie and the Big Newz: the Adventures of a TV Reporter. The book is about making career choices and believing in yourself, and it’s filled with news stories that all have positive endings.

My respected fellow colleagues and I know it’s a tough job covering a very fast moving and traumatic world. Today, my message is clear: not all news is negative, and living by the golden rule is not old-fashioned.

When it comes to civility in society, and particularly in the media, I’m uneasy about the kind of world we will leave our children. Are we on the wrong path when it comes to civility in the media? From what I’ve heard and seen, the answer is yes.

Well, then, can we turn things around and improve the situation? Again, the answer is yes. So, what do we need to do?

Steps We Can Take to Make a Difference

In this media-driven society, we have to take the lead by producing more high-quality local programs. And we have to exercise good editorial judgment when it comes to news stories for our daily broadcasts.

How many times have you tuned into a broadcast that started immediately with crime? A child was shot, or a teenager’s bright future was canceled by drugs, or an elderly person was mugged. The old tabloid saying goes, “if it bleeds, it leads.” In my opinion, that’s the wrong approach. It exists only because there’s a long-held belief in our industry that it will increase ratings-but many of us believe it doesn’t work anymore.

After anchoring close to 15,000 newscasts, I’ve come to the conclusion – people want information that impacts *their *lives. Is my job in jeopardy? Are food prices going up? Are my children healthy? Are the schools safe? The audience is changing because their world is changing, and we must change with it. That’s something we can do.

Throughout my career, I’ve also played the role of a TV news anchor in a few Hollywood movies. So a few words are in order about the big studios and production companies. With all the glitz and glamor of the silver screen, we’re still getting more than our share of films that can leave moviegoers with the wrong ideas.

After that horrible mass-shooting in Aurora, Colorado, movie theater, studio giant Harvey Weinstein of Miramax called for a summit meeting of producers to discuss movie content. We thank him for that; I fully support this kind of discussion, and hopefully, action.

On a grassroots level, I urge educators throughout the country to recognize the importance of this issue. For example, schools could require students to take a course in media studies, to better understand our culture and choose wisely. They could include social media etiquette and media exploitation in their studies of ethics and manners.

I don’t want this to become a one-person crusade. So I’m respectfully asking my colleagues in TV news, at local stations everywhere, to join me. Together we can make this a national effort to improve the balance of positive stories on TV.

My personal efforts go one step further. I have recently created a new series of TV specials called “Positively Ernie.” We feature refreshing segments on health, education, philanthropy, technology, media, and a wide range of subjects that are making our community, our country, and even the world, a better place. The feedback has been great.

Finally, we must start at home by focusing on family life. Communication is at the center, and we need to talk with our children – and really listen to them in return. We also have to connect and strengthen ties with many reputable organizations to do whatever we can to help parents guide children in their use of the internet, social media, and TV. Kids are growing up in a much different culture than their parents did, and it’s our responsibility to bring parents up to date, so that they have some context in which to understand, relate, and make a difference.

But make no mistake. We have a long way to go. It won’t be easy, and it won’t happen overnight. However, I’m confident that by working together, we can successfully spread the message that civility is the foundation of our lives-and of our media as well.

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