Middle Schoolers : Ages 10-13

During this stage of life, your students are becoming adults, both physically and emotionally. The important areas to focus on are:

  1. Independence - Students will want a sense of independence and will often rebel against authority figures, including teachers, at this age. Help them gain confidence and push themselves while keeping reasonable boundaries.

  2. Physical Activity - It is important for your students to get into habits of regular physical activity that they enjoy. As their bodies change, they need to remain active to avoid overweight. Encourage them to join team sports at school and participate in physical education class.

  3. Friendship - At this age, kids are likely to spend a lot of time with friends. They will test out different groups of peers to see where they fit in and which parts of their identities they want to express.

So how does media fit into these needs of middle school students?

Television and Movies
Preteens are likely to watch TV and movies in their free time. Encourage your students' parents to establish or maintain time limits on media use so middle schoolers can find a balance between media, friends, homework, and sleep.

MIddle schoolers fully understand that the purpose of ads is to get people to buy things. They are often wise to the advertising industry and do not want to be "tricked" by them. Middle school teachers can really incorporate media literacy into their classrooms. Students of this age feel empowered by knowing the "behind-the-scenes" aspects of advertising.

Computers and the Internet
In addition to using computers and the internet for school projects, preteens are likely to use computers for social reasons. They log on to instant messenger to talk to their friends. They post a profile on MySpace. They write blogs to keep an online journal of their lives. These technologies have a lot of benefits, like helping preteens work out their identities and connect with peers.

However, there are also risks of using the internet, such as privacy concerns, connecting with strangers, and seeing content they were not looking for.

Video Games
Middle schoolers often enjoy playing video games after school, especially with their friends. These games are easy to learn and players are rewarded for their skills, getting new codes and new levels as they go.

As we mentioned with television, encourage parents to monitor how much time their children spend playing video games. Time limits can help middle schoolers find a balance between media use, homework, sleep, and family.

Additionally, encourage parents to monitor the kinds of games their kids are playing. Violent video games teach that violence is an acceptable way to solve problems.

Body Image
Because preteens' bodies are growing and changing, they may feel insecure about how they look. Celebrities on TV and in the movies as well as fashion models in magazines have the potential to make preteens feel worse about themselves.

In the media, the ideal body type for women is ultra-thin. The ideal body type for men is overly muscular. Neither of these body types are realistic or healthy for preteens, but they may compare their own bodies to the ones they see on TV or in magazines.

Children of this age will likely enjoy listening to popular music on the radio and to music in their collections. Much of their friendships with others could be based on the kinds of music they like. Many middle schoolers will own an iPod, a walkman, or another personal music player.

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CMCH resources for parents and teachers are made possible
by a grant from the American Legion Child Welfare Foundation.

Related Links:

Media Literacy Lesson Plans

What is Media Literacy?

Teachers' Homepage

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