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What you should be saying while your kids watch TV

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This is what I do when I'm watching either television or videos with my kids. I try to always watch with them, which may be annoying for them. But we limit how much they watch, which is a good idea. And I keep up a sort of running commentary as we go along, because kids aren't media literate innately. Especially young kids, what they see seems real to them. They assume that's the way the world really is. So if nobody's pointing out to them that there's actually 50% women in the world and actually 50% of the jobs in the world are held by women, they're taking in a completely different message. They're taking in a negative message about women. The more hours of television a girl watches, the fewer options she thinks she has in life. And the more hours a boy watches, the more sexist his views become. So clearly there's a very negative message coming through the television. But because I don't want to deprive my kids of watching, as we're watching, I might lean over and say, "did you notice that there weren't any girls in that group?" Or, "do you think that a girl could have done what that boy character just did?" Or, "why do you think that girl is wearing that if she's going to go rescue somebody?" They really now have internalized that. I do this both with my twin boys who are 9 and my daughter who's 11 to the point where if I start to lean over to my girl, she'll say, "I know. There's not enough girls in that scene." So I do recommend that other parents do that as well, because there's no 3 year-old girl who's going to look at the screen and say, "I'm not seeing myself fairly represented up there." It's just not something they would think of. So they really do need us to point this out.

Geena Davis, Academy Award Winning Actor, shares advice for parents why it is important to teach your kids media literacy when watching TV with them

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Geena Davis

Academy Award Winning Actor & Founder of Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media

Academy Award winner Geena Davis is one of Hollywood’s most respected actors, appearing in several roles that became cultural landmarks. Earning the 2006 Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama, Davis broke ground in her portrayal of the first female President of the United States in ABC’s hit show “Commander in Chief.”In 1989, Davis received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as the offbeat dog trainer Muriel Pritchett in Lawrence Kasdan’s “The Accidental Tourist.” She was again nominated for an Academy Award and Golden Globe for her performance in Ridley Scott’s “Thelma & Louise,” in which she co-starred with Susan Sarandon. Davis went on to receive a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress for her portrayal of baseball phenomenon Dottie Hinson in “A League of Their Own.” Davis made her feature film debut starring opposite Dustin Hoffman in “Tootsie.” She went on to star in such films as “The Fly,” “Beetlejuice,” “Angie,” “The Long Kiss Goodnight,” and “Stuart Little.”

Few have achieved such remarkable success in as many different fields as Davis has: she is not only an Oscar and Golden Globe winning actor, but a world-class athlete (at one time the nation’s 13th-ranked archer), a member of the genius society Mensa, and is becoming recognized for her tireless advocacy of women and girls nearly as much as for her acting accomplishments. She is the founder of the non-profit Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which engages film and television creators to dramatically increase the percentages of female characters – and reduce gender stereotyping – in media made for children 11 and under.

Davis was appointed Special Envoy for Women and Girls in ICT for the UN's International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Davis is also an official partner of UN Women, working toward their goal of promoting gender equality and empowering women worldwide. Davis is the Chair of the California Commission on the Status of Women. Davis holds honorary degrees from Boston University, Bates College and New England College. 

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