Media classes sharpen kids' focus
If your child likes taking pictures, shooting video or designing websites, a digital media class can turn that interest into a hobby or even a career down the road.
“Technology is just so broad right now and it affects so many different parts of our lives that there are many ways to use technology to express yourself and be creative and collaborative,” says Tracey Welson-Rossman, founder of Tech Girlz — a volunteer group of information technology professionals who offer hands-on classes for girls in grades 6-9.
Learning about technology and art “builds confidence, helps kids solve problems and helps them think out of the box, even in math and science,” says Heather Jo Wingate, director of pre-college programs at the Art Institute of Philadelphia. “It helps them think outside of that normal structure.”
Classes for preteens
Although most digital media classes are geared toward teens or adults, there are courses for tweens as well. “I would encourage parents not to think that their kids are too young to try some of these classes,” says Anne Harrison, manager of children & youth programs at the Fleisher Art Memorial in Philadelphia.
Beginner digital photography classes offer instruction in how to hold and set the camera and in basic Photoshop techniques. Some classes require participants to have a digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera, while others require only a simple point-and-shoot model. DSLR cameras can cost $500 or more.
Other creative digital media classes for tweens include computer art and creative technology, which can spur interest in graphic design. They introduce kids to the basics of creating artwork on the computer and to programs such as Photoshop. Elementary-age kids can learn to create their own web pages. In beginner animation classes, explore techniques such as stop motion.
Classes for teens
Teenagers have more options, with classes available on topics such as web design, digital photography, graphic design and digital cinematography.
Digital photography classes for teens teach about image manipulation and color correction in Photoshop. Classes can also include field trips to take pictures in photogenic areas of the city or to capture subjects such as Christmas lights.
Graphic design classes for teens focus on software tools such as Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign, as well as creatively using typography, photo manipulation and styles such as collage and surrealism.
In cinematography and filmmaking classes, teens work in groups studying topics ranging from scriptwriting to camera and editing techniques. In these classes, “students learn how a project comes together,” says Dominick Defino, executive director of Filmtech, a Philadelphia-based film school.
To find a digital media class, check with local art centers listed in the Attractions Guide at Metrokids.com. Ask your community college about non-credit classes. High school guidance counselors can also help.
Carol Anne Pagilotti is a freelance writer and former calendar editor of MetroKids.