Kids are surrounded by digital media almost from birth. According to Common Sense Media and the Center for Humane Technology, 98% of American kids under eight have access to a mobile device at home. A study conducted at Northwestern University found that media and technology use are a “family affair,” with 27% of parents of kids under eight characterizing their household as media-centric, while 47% regard their home as media-moderate and only 26% as media-light. From games to apps, music and videos, kids have a plethora of digital content right at their fingertips.
Since digital media are so central to life in the 21st-century, it makes sense that we should prepare kids for informed, responsible and safe usage. This means learning about the hardware, software and networks that inform and connect us. A digital media summer camp provides a fun and exciting opportunity for kids who aspire to be content creators. Through an engaging project-based curriculum, they acquire the creative and technical skills needed to be not only efficient and safe consumers but also competent creators of digital content.
The Benefits of Digital Media
Media are tools used to communicate with multiple people at the same time; think books, magazines, newspaper, television and radio. So digital media are mass communication methods involving a computer. But what separates digital media from other more passive media formats are their interactivity and the potential for collaboration. Unlike TV, radio and print media, the connectivity afforded by the internet allows kids to respond and interact with the worldwide audience through their mobile devices. This easy access also provides a platform for them to share their own digital content creations online.
The Importance Of Media Literacy
Media literacy is an important life skill for 21st century kids, as necessary as learning to read and write. The ability to encode and decode the symbols that represent digital communication are essential. As consumers of digital media, kids must analyze and make sense of the messages transmitted as they access their desired content. They must develop critical thinking skills and be aware of and alert to misinformation and bias.
To be a digital creator, they must be capable of synthesizing and producing media content in an accessible format. Learning media production skills in an active, hands-on context empowers kids to internalize the process and make it their own.
- Creativity – kids are imaginative and hatch lots of ideas. Whatever their preferred creative genre, the digital platform allows them to share their photos, designs, poems, songs, etc. Kids must learn to trust their creative instincts and take a risk by acting on their ideas. Cultivating these skills is an investment that will benefit them in school, the workplace and in life.
- Design thinking – having a system that is both solution- and action-oriented can help creators bring ideas to fruition. Internalizing this type of process gives kids critical thinking skills they can apply in any context.
- Persistence – since implementing new ideas is rarely a smooth process, kids must be prepared for bumps along the way. Creators must be confident in their abilities and view setbacks as learning experiences that bring them closer to success.
- Collaboration – the ability to compromise, offer and receive feedback, and support and work with team members are skills 21st-century employers are seeking. The opportunity to develop these skills in the context of team projects brings a realistic experience that kids learn from.
- Technical skills – communicating in a digital medium requires developing familiarity with hardware and learning the appropriate language to program applications. Since kids are growing up with digital media, they quite naturally learn the needed skills and add them to their toolbox.
Opportunities To Get Involved With Digital Media
Galileo Summer Quest has gone all in with digital media for kids, hosting several exciting majors that give kids access to important hardware, accessible software and the most enthusiastic mentors.
- Video is a favorite method of digital communication for kids. YouTube Producers is a weeklong program designed to give kids the opportunity to create a channel and post their own video content. Each day campers produce a different style of video, while learning camera, lighting, sound and green screen techniques. They learn to accept feedback from their team as they perform post-production editing. Friends and family get to view their final products at week’s end.
- Mobile games are another popular digital medium for kids and adults alike. Being part of a mobile game design team for a week gives campers experience designing a game from concept to launch. After learning the basics of different genres, they develop all aspects of their game before conducting beta testing. By week’s end, their creation is ready to share and play on any device.
- Fans of Minecraft® can strengthen their creative and technical skills as they modify the game to fit their very own vision in an immersive week of mod design. Campers use GIMP to create and edit images, then learn the basics of Java programming to code their environments, characters and rules. Not only are their tech skills enhanced, but they communicate and solve problems with their team, thus strengthening their collaborative capacity. They unveil their creation with confidence at an end-of-week showcase.
- A GSQ major that features the perfect blend of creative and technical skills involves kids telling their stories through virtual reality. Storytelling taps their creativity as they imagine characters, settings and action. Then campers develop programming skills to bring their story to 3-D life. The more they work at it, testing and gathering feedback, the more realistic their vision becomes, until by week’s end, they are ready to share their story proudly.
Skills For Now And Later
Digital media are an important part of life and one that 21st-century kids experience early. As such, it is important that they become not only competent, informed consumers, but creators who can communicate effectively in a variety of digital formats. Comfort and expertise with digital media platforms give kids the creative and technical skills needed to assertively express themselves now and confidently compete for jobs later.
Enroll your aspiring digital media creator at a Galileo Summer Quest camp in your area: San Francisco, Southern California, and Chicagoland. Register for a camp session or sign up for our mailing list to keep up-to-date with camp happenings and innovation resources. Or, for more information about Galileo camps, contact us here.