Video on Demand Executive Gigi Johnson Addresses Educators on Importance of Family Media Literacy

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Studio 4 Kids and Studio 4 Learning GM Discusses the Need for Family Media Literacy

Family media literacy advocate and video on demand executive Gigi Johnson -- the former executive director of UCLA Anderson School of Management Entertainment and Media Management Institute -- addressed preschool and family educators at the Even Start Family Literacy Conference on the topic of "Enriching Lives with Digital Media: Expanding Learning with Internet and Video."

During her featured presentation, Johnson, who serves as GM of Studio 4 Learning and Studio 4 Kids, two video on demand networks, painted a picture of a changing learning landscape for preschoolers where interactive digital media has become an integral part of children's lives. She compared the forces facing educators with families having both pressure and choice of an abundance of family-separating media to shore up greater awareness of the need for family media literacy.

Rather than try and buck the trend, Johnson suggested ways teachers can show parents and students alike how to use the power of the Internet and digital media to enhance learning techniques and improve media literacy. Interactive, exercise-based learning tools like video on demand are available online, which make them ideal for remedial and accelerated learning, remedial supplementation, and to expand students' perspectives on the outside world.

"The challenge is that both parents and early childhood educators have little training and know of few tools to see what is good and what is lacking," said Johnson. "Increasing family literacy gives parents the ability to see through those media products that may be masquerading as educational."

"Studies showing that 39% of families have the television on nearly all or all the time and 65% of homes had the TV on at least half the time can be startling," continued Johnson. "The research shows that background TV reduces parental interaction, creative play activity, and impacts language acquisition in young children, which are the opposites of what we as parents should be creating."

Her recommendation is spending time side-by-side with children using digital media like interactive websites and video on demand, talking about it and sharing it. "Even my 14-year-old commented to me last week that most digital media is designed now is personal media, not shared family media. It may be babysitting television: DVDs in the back seat of the car or a restaurant, or personal screens everywhere." Johnson added, "Perhaps the best example of the opposite trend is the group game play with the Nintendo Wii - shared experiences for shared dialog and family communication."

As a background for her presentation, Johnson cited the 2003 Henry J. Kaiser Foundation study in 2003 and additional primary research conducted in 2005 and 2006 which states:

  •     Forty-eight percent of children six and under have used a computer: 31 percent of 0-3 year-olds and 70 percent of 4-6 year-olds.
  •     Thirty percent have played video games: 14 percent of 0-3 year-olds and 50 percent of 4-6 year-olds.
  •     Children under 2 are widely exposed to electronic media, with the average household having more than 3 televisions.
  •     As a result of 50 million plus Nintendo DS's in the U.S. marketplace, cell phones in the hands of younger and younger children, 5 million kids each month visiting ClubPenguin and Webkinz respectively, families are under increased to develop their media literacy skills.

Johnson teaches digital media literacy in several different educational environments herself. She continues teaching the Media 2015 masters' course in media strategy UCLA Anderson School of Management's Entertainment and Media Management Institute. She also teaches an executive program in media strategy as faculty director of its Entertainment and Media Executive Program, and teaches its international undergraduate certificate program in Entertainment/Media Management.

Johnson also works with younger learners to foster family media literacy through new media, video on demand, kid safe sites and live programs. She helps provide new media resources as senior vice president and general manager of Studio 4 Kids and Studio 4 Learning, where she distributes video on demand from award winning, independently produced edutainment DVDs through video on demand services of major cable and satellite providers such as Cox, Charter and AT&T, as well as online at Studio4Kids.tv and their high school learning online platform (currently in beta). She also teaches "live" digital media and music educational programs for community groups in the San Gabriel Valley of Southern California and video training programs on cable and How2Kids.com online with Maremel Media, a company she founded in 2005.

Johnson has an MBA from UCLA Anderson and a bachelor's degree in cinema-television production from USC Cinema. She serves on the advisory board of the Interactive TV Alliance and on the boards of several digital media start-up firms. She also is a member of the Interactive Peer Group of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

The conference was organized last month by the California Even Start Office to offer family literacy best practices and strategies for strengthening the participation of parents, parent literacy skills, and parents' support for their child's development.

About Studio 4 Networks

With three networks, Studio 4 Networks (http://www.studio4networks.com) has both highly targeted markets and an expansive and diverse audience. Through carriage agreements with AT&T, Cox, Charter Communications, DirecTV, Rogers Cable and Shaw, it is one of the nation's leaders in the rapidly growing market of VOD, which is projected to grow from its availability on approximately 34 million households in the United States to 63 million by 2012. Its broadband offerings are poised to bring those audiences complementary choice in the burgeoning broadband video space - but with a curated environment just for their needs. Launched in 2003, Studio 4 broadcasts educational material using three defined networks on cable, satellite, and Internet - Studio 4 Kids (http://www.studio4kids.tv); Studio 4 Learning (http://www.studio4learning.tv), and Studio 4 Fitness (http://www.studio4fitness.tv). Studio 4 Networks recently agreed to an acquisition by Knightscove Media Corp. (TSXV: KC / OTCQX: KCMDF), a family-oriented Canadian media company.

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