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Explain that when we talk about the media, we mean radio and television, newspapers, magazines, video games and the Internet.
Ask pupils what they like watching/reading. What is the most popular TV programme/magazine in the class? Why do they like those ones particularly?
Extension. You may wish to ask children to keep a log of their media usage over a week prior to this lesson. If so, you could discuss their logs here, working out how long children spent using each type of media. They could create and compare bar graphs too.
Explain that the image on screen is an advert, trying to persuade people to buy Heinz baked beans. Ask a child to read out the slogan, ‘For Truly Magic Beans’.
Ask (or explain the answers, depending on the stage of your class):
• Why are there leaves coming out from the tin of beans?
o Heinz are pretending their beans are like the magic beans in Jack and the Beanstalk. The leaves represent the beanstalk.
• Why are Heinz pretending that their beans are magic?
o They hope more people will buy them.
• Are the beans really magic?
o No! They say on the tin that one portion counts as your 5 a day, but that doesn’t mean they are magic.
Explain that sometimes adverts and the media show us things in a way that isn’t real, often to try and get us to buy something.
Tell children to listen to the story about Zoya in Appendix 1, and be ready to answer questions about how she felt throughout the story.
Read Appendix 1 – Zoya’s Story
Use the following questions to open up the themes of the story:
• How did Zoya feel about her hair at the beginning of the story? Why?
• Why did her feelings change? What did the advert say?
• Zoya felt that she knew ‘the truth’ – that ‘nobody likes frizzy hair’? Is that the truth? Why does Zoya think it is the truth?
• Why does Zoya think her Mum wouldn’t understand if she said she needed straighteners?
• Why does Zoya cut off her hair?
• How do you think her Mum will react when she sees Zoya’s hair and hears what has happened?
Using the prompt text on screen and explain that:
• What we see in the media doesn’t always tell us the truth
• Sometimes what we see can make us feel bad about ourselves (often to persuade us to buy something that will make us feel better)
• We have to remind ourselves of the real truth: God made us and loves us just as we are
In pairs, have children roleplay the scene between Zoya and her Mum, using the what they have just learned to reassure Zoya. Showcase some examples and discuss.
Say that Zoya learned that adverts don’t always tell us the truth. But it’s not just adverts…
Adults often use social media. Ask children:
• What they know about social media (Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter etc).
• What kinds of things adults share on social media? (Usually just the best bits, or highlights of their day to day lives)
• How this could make other people feel? (That their lives aren’t as good)
Explain that how people present themselves online can be misleading and it’s important for us to remember that what we see doesn’t always tell us the truth.
Explain that Alex is 13 and just using social media for the first time.
Hand out Appendix 2 worksheets (individual or in small groups) and ask children to draw clothes onto the body outline for what Alex actually looks like, and then onto the one representing the perfect ‘Social Media Alex.’
Discuss and show any differences.
Ask children to compare Alex and Social Media Alex using the different categories below. You might like to call out the different categories, and have children write their answers around each drawing. Feed in the extra suggestions as necessary:
• Alex’s life – Taking care of three brothers and sisters, chores, swimming, football, watching television
• Social Media Alex’s life – Dates and skiing trips, wasting money, loud music, being cheeky
• Alex’s after-school life – Homework, seeing Dad
• Social Media Alex’s after-school life – Joking around, going out, playing games
• Alex’s friends/ Social Media Alex’s friends
• Alex’s Family/Social Media Alex’s Family etc
Share some of these back to the class. Discuss how children feel, or could feel, when they compare their own lives and looks to those that they see in adverts and the media?
Explain that sometimes, what we see in the media can influence our ideas about the real people in our communities, and also about what we should be like. Sometimes it might feel like we’ll never be as perfect as the people we see on TV, so it is important to remember that media does not reflect reality.