Avatars and Body Image


Learn the definition of the term “avatar” in a digital context ;
Consider and discuss the influence of avatars in games and virtual worlds on identity and body image ;
Create a media product that communicates their self-perception and desired representation ;
Reflect on the relationship between identity and online representation.
Avatars and Body Image

Brief description of the issue

As early as in grade 1, children, and especially girls, are able to identify a part of their body that they aren’t satisfied with and they would like to change. The influence of media and online games has something to do with: representations of boys and girls they showcase are very stereotypical. In order to develop our students’ critical thinking and to limit the endorsement of limiting gender stereotypes by children, it is important to have a conversation with students about the representation of body image in the media.

This lesson plan named Avatars and body image has been created by MediaSmarts, “a Canadian not-for-profit charitable organization for digital and media literacy. Our vision is that children and youth have the critical thinking skills to engage with media as active and informed digital citizens.”

According to the website’s description, this lesson introduces students to “the concept of ‘avatars’ and share their experiences creating and playing avatars in video games and virtual worlds. They then create avatars using a program that is intentionally limited in terms of available body types and gender markers, first creating an avatar of their own gender and then of the opposite gender, and then discuss the program and relate it to representations of gender and body image in games and virtual worlds and in other media. Students then create avatars using a much more flexible version of the program and compare that experience to the more limited version. Finally, students use the most versatile program to create avatars that represent how they see themselves and how they would like others to see them online and reflect on the choices that went into creating them.”

Click on the link below to download the lesson plan.


Avatars and Body Image - Lesson Plan
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