Media Mentors: A New View

Project B3 has previously written about the idea of media mentors and what that looks like between parents and kids at home. We recently came across a great interview from the Edsurge podcast, that takes a new look at the term “Media Mentoring”. In it, Lisa Guernsey, director of the teaching, learning and tech program at New America, is interviewed by Jeff Young. Guersney has written a  book that’s called “Screen Time” and a more recent one called “Tap, Click, Read: Growing Readers in a World of Screens.”

(Jeffrey R. Young is the higher education editor at EdSurge and the producer and co-host of the EdSurge Podcast)

In the interview, she describes how she,“actually avoids the words “screen time” these days. She says she now has a better way of thinking about regulating tech, including a model of how educators and librarians can become better mentors for students and parents.

Here is an excerpt from the Edsurge Podcast interview that Project B3 found especially interesting:

Lately you’ve been talking about a new role in education that you propose for schools and libraries that you call media mentors. What’s that?

“A media mentor is somebody who is [working] alongside an educator or a student or a parent mentoring them on the choices they might want to make with screens.

It’s mentioned in different things that have come out from the American Academy of Pediatrics, [where it means] a parent who’s acting more as a mentor instead of being a strict authoritarian.

But it’s also something that in my work I’m seeing in public libraries. Librarians are recognizing that they already have a lot of the skills that are involved in curating and making the choices about different media—finding media that matches interests, searching, understanding sources. And they want to update the way they understand this in a digital context; they want to make sure they’re applying that in ways that help the community. And also they want to help teachers because a lot of the teachers are coming to them asking these questions.

So media mentorship programs are coming along in various public library settings. In Maryland, I was part of a program there where we ran book study programs. There’s a book out called “Becoming a Media Mentor” that was published by the American Library Association

What does it look like? Can you give an example?

“In a public library setting, you may have a parent who goes to the children’s librarian and asks, “We’re about to go on a road trip. I know that I really shouldn’t give certain apps to my kids, but I want to put a couple of apps on my phone so I have something for them to do in the back of the car. And I have one child who’s almost reading, and I have another child who loves anything with Scooby Doo. Can you help?” And so the media mentor then can interview in a nonjudgmental way and talk a little bit more to that parent, that family member, “Oh, OK, so this is what you’re looking for. Let me see if I can find things like this.”

That person also can help that parent or educator think more broadly also about the connections between a print book that they might also bring on their trip and a game that they might put on their phone and a video that they might be able to then play together or watch together as a family and help guide the use of media in a way that leads to more learning and that also is just tuned into what the family wants or what that educator wants.

We’ll be starting to help with the development of this in Illinois in the coming year through Chicago Public Library and a couple other library systems out there.

I think school librarians and educators who are instructional technologists or who are in a public school space may already be doing a lot of these things too and may not know the term media mentor, but are in that same space looking for that same guidance, wanting to build up their skills. And the more that we can do to bring people together, learn from each other and then learn from the science of what works and what doesn’t, it could be a huge help to parents and educators.”

Project B3 knows that as parents of children living in this digital age, we are always looking for more guidance and more resources to help us navigate the online world. We love the idea of librarians, schools and educators in the community working together to raise the next generation to #BeSafe, #BeSmart and #BeKind online.