Media’s Impact of Today’s Classroom

The Impact of Media on Today’s ClassroomImage

Chapter 14: The Child in Context: Family Structure, Child Care, and Media

Submitted by Katie Williams

It’s no secret that media is a large influencer of students, now more than ever before. It is imperative that we, as parents and teachers, find ways to embrace media and use it to our advantage, working also to lower risk factors in the children within our realm of influence.

The Impact of Media on Multicultural Education

Media has the power to teach students about people from all over the world. Programs such as Dora the Explorer and Sesame Street incorporate other cultures into their television episodes. Sesame Street also reaches out to multicultural audiences through the Sesame Street Workshop foundation by being broadcast in 30 languages throughout the globe (Wartella & Knell). These episodes address cultural needs such as prosocial behavior, mutual respect and acceptance of those who are different (i.e. Kami, an HIV positive Muppet in South Africa’s airings) (Wartella & Knell). These interventions strive to address social issues around the world and help educate students about adult issues that they may hear their parents discussing. So what about bringing multicultural education to American students? Teachers and students can continue to discuss global issues they see in media. Work to promote mutual respect and break down barriers of racial stereotypes students may get from antisocial television shows. Introduce students to prosocial media such as educational shows like Sesame Street that will engage students and invite them to learn about other countries.

The Impact of iPads in the Classroom

Many schools are combating media usage by embracing it and bringing it into the classroom. Many BYOD school districts are emerging and many others are purchasing iPads for school use. Social collaboration is one advantage to using iPads in the classroom as it facilitates engagement among students (Henderson & Yeow). Students are held accountable and take control of their own learning when iPads are use effectively. In some cases, learning is becoming digital and taking the place of the educator lecturing at the front of the classroom. Learning is also becoming more mobile and immediate since learning is at the students’ fingertips. The portability of iPads allows teachers and students to use the devices in and out of the classroom. For example, students can take the devices along on field trips or practice skills at home. The biggest critique of using this technology in the classroom is that teachers MUST manage the use of these devices (apps and software updates) and monitor student use so it doesn’t contribute to the negative effects media already has on students. As with computer use in the classroom, teachers should attend professional development to effectively use this piece of technology in the classroom (Bergin & Bergin).

Impact of Social Media on Education

Social media is becoming a part of the lives of our educators and students alike at exponential rates. A national research report from Grunwald Associates, LLC found that one third of teachers alone belong to a social media group and that number is increasing (Rivero). So why not embrace social media as an educational tool within the classroom setting? Sites such as Edmodo allow students to collaborate with each other, take online assessments, and read material posted for learning purposes. Sites such as glogster, smore, edublog, and kidblog take blogging to a new level where students take control of their learning to write posts or create e-posters of their learning. Professional learning networks such a PD360 is designed to help teachers improve in their practice along their journey as educators.

Reducing Negative Effects of Media in the Classroom

Embracing media is one way to continue to ensure that students are engaged in our classrooms. However, we should always make sure we are working to reduce those negative effects that media has on our students. Make sure you talk to your students about making positive media choices and modeling what this looks like (Bergin & Bergin). Also, educate parents about positive media outlets such as educational and prosocial television and internet sites. Above all, make sure to discuss digital citizenship with students encourage students to make informed decisions about media even at a young age.


Bergin, C. A., & Bergin, D. A. (2012). Cognitive Ability: Intelligence, Talent and Achievement. Child and Adolescent Development In Your Classroom (pp. 185-191). Australia: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.

Henderson, S.; Yeow, J., “iPad in Education: A Case Study of iPad Adoption and Use in a Primary School,” System Science (HICSS), 2012 45th Hawaii International Conference on , vol., no., pp.78,87, 4-7 Jan. 2012. URL:

Rivero, V. (2011). “We’re talking social media in education.” Internet@Schools, 18(3), 12-15,4. Retrieved from

Wartella, Ellen and Gary E. Knell (Nov, 2004). “Raising a World-Wise Child and the Power of Media: The Impact of Television on Children’s Intercultural Knowledge.” The Phi Delta Kappan, Vol. 86, No 3, pp.222-224.


Discussion Questions

1)      What are some additional impacts do you see of media on education?

2)      What are you doing to promote digital citizenship in your school district? In your classroom?

3)      What additional ways can you think of to reduce negative effects of media on our students?

4)       How can you effectively use media in your classroom instruction?

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4 Responses to Media’s Impact of Today’s Classroom

  1. Mary Decker says:

    What are some additional impacts do you see of media on education?

    I believe that the impact of media on today’s school age generation is going to be far greater than we have observed thus far. Students are so saturated with different forms of technology that it will surely affect them cognitively, socially, and emotionally. One difference that I have noticed lately is the decreased attention span of children. Most websites and television shows today are so fast-paced, with many visual distractions. It makes me question what the role of educators should be. Should we feed into that shortened attention span by introducing content in small snippets? Or should we help increase their attention spans by teaching patience and depth? I have heard both sides of the argument.

    Another impact of media that I have noticed is that students have an increased sense of curiosity, which they want to satisfy immediately. For example, if a question arises in class, students want to Google the answer right away. This is helpful in that the information is so readily available. If is harmful in that it can stunt the inquiry process. For instance, if we are doing an investigative lesson on what factors create the fastest motion, there are some students who would rather look up the answer quickly on the Internet than perform hands on experiments with race cars to find out.

  2. khshwb Karen says:

    4) How can you effectively use media in your classroom instruction?
    Even though I am a PE/Health teacher there are still many different ways that I can use media in my classroom instruction. At my school we use schoology as a way to inform students as well as assess them. Students are able to hold class discussions and pose their own questions through this site, which has been very helpful. I also use a lot of advertisements in my instruction. We look at both print and digital advertisements to talk about influences on our health and how some companies try to impact our decisions in a negative way. Since health topics are very real world I often have a lot of news stories that I can pull from. I will show news stories and have students respond to discussion questions before they begin their own discussion. I have not tried because I am known for breaking technology in my school, but I would love to use Ipads in the gym. They have some great apps out there that let students see their performance in slow motion or split screen 2 different performances so they can compare and contrast. I need a little more training and comfort with the Ipads before I feel comfortable bringing the Ipad cart into my classroom. I think for too long we have shied away from use technology in the classroom because it was seen as a distraction, but it is something that is such a part of our students’ lives that I think we really need to embrace it as a way of engaging out students in our topics.

  3. Brooke says:

    2) What are you doing to promote digital citizenship in your school district? In your classroom?

    My district has created a Digital Citizenship Pledge for students that addresses six principles:
    -Respect yourself
    -Protect yourself
    -Respect Others
    -Protect Others
    -Respect Intellectual Property
    -Protect Intellectual Property

    These principles aim to make students more aware of what they are doing on school computers and home. While we discuss the pledge at the beginning of the year and students sign the pledge, I do not feel like students fully understand or grasp the big picture of social media and the effects of it on themselves and other people. I am 30 and barely can wrap my head around some of this stuff. One of the hardest parts of my job in middle school in the past few years has been dealing with cyber bullying. Kids are very smart and know how ways around being caught by parents and teachers: some students have gone to great lengths to create other profiles and torment students and post this way. And in a time where teens are getting more and more freedom with the internet and phones, keeping track of all the activity is virtually impossible. It also does not help that there is a very fine line between what a teacher can do or say to intervene when it comes to social media. I try to be as open as possible with the students about social media. I use Facebook, Instagram and Twitter examples on a regular basis. We talk about the pictures and status updates people post and how it reflects on that individual. We also talk about people who are using social media for good and how that relates to digital citizenship.

  4. Autumn says:

    4) How can you effectively use media in your classroom instruction?

    I feel that media can have a profound effect on classroom instruction. Every morning, I engage the students in a brief discussion of current events. When typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines two weeks ago, wreaking havoc and destruction throughout the region (particularly Tacloban), we-as a class-were able to immediately locate the area on Google maps and project a live BBC broadcast of the event. My students saw-in real time- images of distressed kids their own age living in make-shift tents, overcome by grief as they awaited assistance in the form of victuals and security. We continue to monitor the situation each day with increasing concern, while the Filipinos bravely attempt to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives. As a teacher of affluent students, I often fear that they will fall victim to the callousness and indifference that comes from living in a bubble, completely divorced from a harsher reality that lies just beyond their doorstep. It is critical for the children to witness these episodes as a means of establishing/fortifying their sense of connection to the global community as well as to help them appreciate the challenges of a world that exists beyond themselves.

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