.- Family and Media is celebrating its seventh year of studying the impact of the media on the family and offering advice to parents on how to form the Christian character of their children.
“The catalyst for its starting was John Paul II’s message ‘The Media and the Family: a Risk and a Richness,’ delivered in 2004,” Family and Media's project coordinator Norberto Gaitano told CNA Dec. 14.
“Some scholars from different universities already had an interest and a preoccupation, for the media effects on family. At that point, some of us thought: we have to do something in this field to help families.”
Gaitano is a professor of communications and public opinion at the Pontifical University Santa Croce, and the organization includes communications professors from universities in Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Argentina, and Chile.
In his words, “we don't pay too much attention to the influence media is having on our lifestyles,” and so he and his fellow teachers made this a focus of Family and Media.
The group assists other family associations in developing media education tools for parents and helps promote a pro-family agenda in the media, rather than merely being reactive to media.
It also assists family organizations with improving their own communication outreach, acts as a think tank, and is interdisciplinary, including advisers in the fields of philosophy and theology, Gaitano explained.
At the practical leve, he said it is important that parents be aware of their childrens' use of media and social networks.
“Young people are searching to affirm their identity, to discover a world beyond the family, and to establish relationships that are different from their filial and fraternal ones … new technologies open a window to such new relationships.”
Since children are using these technologies, but have not had time to develop prudence, Gaitano said it is important that parents supply this virtue and help their children to develop it.
We must begin with children and education – “through caring for children,” said Gaitano.
“We want to offer our little contribution to help rebuild the symbolic and social value of the family. Communications is a key of doing this. This field leads you to think strategically and not just tactically. Isolated and temporary, casual actions aren’t enough to win the battle. A long-term cultural design is needed.”