Growing Digitally Savvy and Questioning Kids with Amy Jussel
November 9, 2021
Growing Digitally Savvy and Questioning Kids with Amy Jussel

It’s impossible to get around media these days. We’re constantly inundated with images and content on social media, in our search browsers, on television, and even walking or driving down the street.

As adults, we know that looking critically at the media is important, as is asking questions about what we see. Our children are often the target of that media, though they don’t have that same insight. It’s time we teach them–starting from a very young age.

This week on the podcast, guest Amy Jussel shares how to use counter-marketing to help kids be more media savvy. We talk about the importance of asking questions about what’s being marketed to us and to our children so they can develop into critical thinkers.

Our kids are consuming media from the moment they’re aware of it, and the sooner we make them aware of it the better. Thankfully, we have incredible resources like Amy and her initiative to help us.

Listen in!


About Amy Jussel:

Amy Jussel is the founder of, tapping the same persuasive tools & techniques of industry insiders to flip media and marketing messages in a healthier direction by educating with a “behind the scenes” lens to deconstruct data from all walks of life. As a former ad agency writer/producer and journalist, Amy has over 30 years of experience in applied science in this realm. Using entertainment as a conduit for media literacy and health sciences, she’s created hands-on games, learning tools and children’s books for critical thinking in the digital space that have been a hit with adults and children alike to “m-power” learning.


Jump in the Conversation:

  • [1:44] How Amy got on this path
  • [3:28] Using counter-marketing to help kids with digital savvy
  • [5:44] How to develop critical thinking in learners
  • [7:47] Shaping children’s future
  • [13:23] Making the learning relevant
  • [15:55] Biggest challenges to online literacy
  • [19:15] Changing the school landscape
  • [20:15] “Anonymous” doesn’t really mean anonymous
  • [22:58] Turbo Time
  • [29:27] How to create savvy consumers
  • [32:01] Amy’s Magic Wand
  • [33:58] Maureen’s Takeaways


Links & Resources:

Thanks for listening! Don’t forget to subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Android. If you like what you heard, please leave a review on iTunes and share what you liked about the show.



Maureen O’Shaughnessy  0:03  

Hello fellow parents and educators. Thank you for joining me at Education Evolution, where we are disrupting the status quo in today’s learning models. We talk about present day education, what’s broken, who’s fixing it, and how. I’m Dr. Maureen O’Shaughnessy, your host and founder of education evolution, micro school coalition, and co-founder of Edactive. I consult and train with schools and leaders who are fiercely committed to changing the narrative, reimagining the education landscape, and creating learning that serves all children and prepares them to thrive. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  0:49  

If you are new, welcome to the podcast. Please subscribe on our website to get it delivered to your inbox weekly. If you’ve been around a while, have you left a review?


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  1:08  

Hi, Amy. So good to have you today. 


Amy Jussel  1:12  

Good Morning. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  1:14  

listeners. today I’m chatting with shaping youth founder Amy Jussel, author of The Secret of the Vanishing Bones, tracking the data trail. Her work instills critical thinking skills around what our youth are reading online. Digital literacy is more important than ever. Let’s hear from Amy, on how we can help our kids be savvy online consumers. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  1:41  

So, Amy, what’s your story? How did you get on this path of protecting our youth from blindly consuming digital media?


Amy Jussel  1:50  

Well, my background is in journalism. So that’s a big start right there. I found even working in my first newsroom job. I was finding that they were asking me to cover stories that were not news. They were visual. In this case, it was ABC News affiliate and they wanted me to go, it was television. So anything that’s visual is would be fire, whatever. It doesn’t matter if the fire was a sugar cane field, you know? Like, that’s not news. That’s just good visual. 


Amy Jussel  2:19  

So I learned I think I was like 17 at the time that I was like, That is not news. Now if there were a dead body in that cane field, that would be news. So I learned to question sources and question motives and question why media was positioning things the way they were. And that just sort of extended on into the next phase of my career in advertising, which was all about persuasion and branding and how things get sold. And I understood that I was working on the sort of the good guys fence, I would do name generation for, you know, labs and cancer things. And you know, what makes sense to call this? What should we call this widget? You know, that kind of thing. 


Amy Jussel  3:05  

But I think that that gives me a unique perspective, from the inside out is understanding what the motivations are, the persuasion tools are the behind the scenes, the money motivations, the profit motivations, all those good things, and then how they spin out and land on and with kids.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  3:25  

Absolutely. You talk about counter marketing, what is counter marketing? And how can we use this to help our kids be smart when they’re online?


Amy Jussel  3:36  

Well, counter marketing is sort of my own little, I call it that, because the lack of understanding of media literacy is profound. And in this case, I was using it in elementary schools to counter market. At the time, it was sports drinks, they were really big on sports drinks, and they kept trying to convince kids Oh, no, you know, water isn’t good enough. You need XYZ, neon, you know, Gatorade, whatever to pour into your system, which they did that’s more sugar and salt and things and they need for the kind of activity they were consuming. 


Amy Jussel  4:10  

So I would go in and use those same triggers that the advertisers were using to motivate the kids to flip the message and, and send them the proper information and the science behind it. And I do that with junk food. I do it with sports drinks, I segwayed into energy drinks, which was a big deal in middle schools and people were slamming all the Red Bulls and things like that. 


Amy Jussel  4:35  

And again, the marketers are marketing. So you have to know what the marketing triggers are in order to counter market around them, and send it right back to the kids so that they feel empowered to push back. And they hate being played. Kids hate being played. They see that they’re part of the grand scheme of everything. They’re like, wait, wait, wait, what? Like yeah, you know that no, Motivation where, you know, I’m going to drink that because my mom doesn’t want me to drink that. They’re doing that on purpose. 


Amy Jussel  5:07  

You know, that is an emotional trigger, there’s their knowing you want to be defiant. And therefore, they are leveraging it. And they get pretty frustrated. And then they become their own viral marketers, they peer to peer, spread the word among their own friends, you know what they’re doing.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  5:28  

I love empowering youth with tools that makes perfect sense. And I think inquiry and critical thinking skills are so important. We want kids who can think not just to homework assignments. So how do we develop these important skills in our learners?


Amy Jussel  5:46  

I think we can do it at every phase of learning. And you can do it at home, whether you’re homeschooling whether, you know, in an enrichment program, after school or in school, we really try to focus on media as a construct. And actually school is a construct for that matter.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  6:04  

Yes, it is,


Amy Jussel  6:05  

what’s being taught, you know, what’s being left out of what’s being taught? What’s the focus of what’s being taught, you know, how are we erasing some histories and not others? You know, look at the headline news, right now, we’ve got a lot of media literacy points to draw from. And I think that that’s imperative that kids start to pick away at that and go like, Hmm, that’s interesting, you know, why did they choose this book? Why did they choose that book? How come there’s nothing that’s relevant to me, you know, or whatever the case may be, and the student voice and the student guided learning? 


Amy Jussel  6:39  

they enlighten and can inform adults, so much more, in terms of making it relatable, and all that, so I’m a big fan of trusting the students to help unearth some of this because they bring up some examples that I wouldn’t have even thought of. And it’s fabulous. I think once you start getting that inquiry seated, they really can take off on their own realm. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  7:06  



Amy Jussel  7:07  

It’s all about, you know, access and analyzing and evaluating and creating and acting on it, you know, they they like to do all the above, including creating their own media, which some of it on Tik Tok right now is a hoot because they are using their media literacy skills to go like, no, that’s not what’s happening, you know, whether it’s vaccines, or, you know, misinformation, they dished it up, and they kind of take down a lot of the adults in the process, which is hilarious, some of them are doing a really good job.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  7:36  

I love that. So on your path, what have you created to support youth in in shaping their own future?


Amy Jussel  7:48  

Well, I did a bunch of digital games and things where I would, I would test things, you know, online, when virtual worlds were a big deal, I tried to embed some of the counter marketing within virtual worlds, which was a fun test. I did a lot of hands on games in elementary schools for enrichment programs and things. And then I now I’ve sort of segwayed into this, let’s embed some of these messages into children’s literature, because I strongly feel that we need to keep dialing down this media literacy to younger and younger ages, because they don’t have they don’t have any mandates to be taught media literacy and critical thinking. 


Amy Jussel  8:28  

By the time they even receive it, a lot of times, it’s the middle school, which, you know, that’s far too late, because these messages are coming at them really early on, and kids are using their phones really early on. I mean, 60% of kids are using phones before five, you know, you know, touching and swiping and, you know, they just don’t, they don’t that was, I think some stat with a Pew Internet research on parenting children in the age of screens. But that inspired me to start thinking of different sort of subversive ways we could get this message to the kids, again, putting the advertising hat on and the media hat on going like how can we make this relatable? 


Amy Jussel  9:12  

Well, let’s put it into cartoon form. Let’s put it into kids literature where kids start seeing that inquiry early and often. Even at pre K in fact, I was going to show you I don’t know if you saw I did some coloring pages, you know, like what is media? I was by eye you know, and they start understanding that everything around them all these messages or media, whether it’s someone’s shirt, you know, they look like a human billboard, you know, or whether it’s, you know, a slogan, stop sign what’s in the classroom was at home. 


Amy Jussel  9:46  

I did one with misinformation to fetch up facts I did want on before you hand over your data, you know, a little coloring page that gets them thinking about who’s asking for it, you know, how would they use and Why is my contact information needed? You know, so they just pause for a minute. Because even at the elementary level, they want to click through and just get to the game or get to the fun. And if we’re not putting in regulatory arms yet, which I think we’re getting there, I think people have just about had it. They’re gonna start to deal with some of this, hopefully, effectively, at least closing off the third party apps and some of the scraping of data, I think it’s really important that we get to the end users. 


Amy Jussel  10:32  

So in this case, yeah, I’ve dialed it down very early, some of these coloring pages are for pre K. Yeah, and the book itself, I will say I wrote secret of the vanishing bone, tracking the data trail to sort of start seeding, that data can be neutral, it can be good, it can be bad, it just, you know, it’s just a matter of knowing that what you’re putting out there. And I think that’s, that’s really what my goal was, was to get them thinking about inquiry, and get them thinking about the questions they should be asking. 


Amy Jussel  11:07  

And I pretty much did that, because I was working in a volunteer program at school with reading literacy, where the kids could tap and swipe and click, but they couldn’t even read yet. They were really young kids. And in first and second grade, it was remedial. So I was teaching kids that didn’t have a lot of support at home, their parents were working all the time, they may have had an older siblings that introduced them to the phone, or the the attack or the devices, but not the data, the privacy, all the stuff they were they were leaking out. 


Amy Jussel  11:40  

So I wrote it to sort of start feeding some of that, Hey, before you, you know, click through or post on that. Or even if you’re taking cute pictures of your puppy, is that puppies collar showing a phone number, because that phone number can be reverse searched, you know, it’s like, exactly where you are, you know, the cell phone towers is bleeding off that that tracker, you know, all those things need to not fear based at all. But more awareness, just kind of like, Ah, okay, I get that now. Oh, yeah, be a little more aware.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  12:13  

Yeah. And I think so much has happened so quickly, that having these tools for parents to use and teachers to use, and also I work primarily with middle and high school kids. But elementary level content, it’s kind of fun, it’s kind of like, Oh, I get to be childlike, like doing color bingo. In high school, Spanish, it’s kind of Oh, I get to be a kid. So having it simpler. Kids get that there are layers, just like Disney movies, there’s so many layers, and it’s marketed to adults as well. So that will go and sit through, you know, Robin Williams stick, you know, as the genie. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  12:49  

So I really feel like when you make it super basic, you’ve given a tool for all ages of kids, and broken it down really basic. And then teachers have the skill set to Okay guys, how would this apply with what you’re seeing in high school and what’s going on with tick tock and and so they can extrapolate and fill in those gaps. But everybody’s gonna get the message because you’ve embedded it in a story and in a metaphor, and it seems super important that we get this message out to all kids.


Amy Jussel  13:22  

Well, and like you said, you can dial it up or down depending on their age group. And I think that there are a lot of good, you know, media literacy programs and, and digital literacy, frankly, the news literacy project and cyber civics and some of these really good ones for middle, middle and upper grades. But I think that, like you said, when you I’m big on Applied Science, so it’s all about hands on activities, I was an experiential learner, I was not a textbook learner that was like Wah, Wah Wah like, I just couldn’t, it was not of interest to me. 


Amy Jussel  13:54  

But if you could give me relevance and give me something in my own world that I could relate to, that’s your touch point. And again, coming from an advertising background and sort of a journalism background, that media key, it doesn’t matter if you want to free associate with, you know, a tick tock saying or a show or any kind of media that gets them thinking in that direction, in a cartoon, etc. You can transfer it into a worldview that they understand, you know, if it’s a texting teen, you can talk about, you know, an emoji, you know, why did you choose that emoji? 


Amy Jussel  14:32  

You know, if you said, Send me your worldview, how many people would pick the world there are three different emojis that represent the world. Has anyone ever picked anything that didn’t have the United States front and center? If you’re talking to a United States crowd, you know, and that’s the kind of thing that they start to notice. Like, oh, yeah, I do always pick that one. Why do I always pick that one? Because that’s your worldview. You know, you’re coming from that relatable, that is my home. You know, that is your version of The Earth. But what if you lived in Africa? You know, what if you lived in Asia? You know, would you pick a different emoji, you know, and just get them thinking about these things. It’s everywhere. 


Amy Jussel  15:10  

And just fun activities, you talk about going grocery shopping, you know, going clothes shopping, if you’re, you know, or a teenager, whatever, start looking at those receipts, you know, what, what are they pitching? What are they giving you coupons for? You know, why? Why- Is it more of the same? Are they trying to veer you into a different brand? Are they trying to give you incentives to try something else? You know, they’re all sort of like scavenger hunt games, that when you turn it into a playful exercise, the kids really digest it well. And it doesn’t matter how old you are.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  15:43  

Absolutely. We all want it to be fun and relevant. And who doesn’t love a scavenger hunt and a mystery and, and solving something? Amy? What are the biggest challenges you’re seeing to making sure our youth are digitally literate and safe online?


Amy Jussel  16:01  

Oh, boy, there are a lot of challenges there. I think right now, the biggest one is misinformation. I think, right now, I won’t even say misinformation, I’ll say disinformation, the amount of purposeful spinning of the facts. And what used to be truth is leading kids into some interesting rabbit holes. And this is, I think, algorithmically, a big challenge. 


Amy Jussel  16:28  

This is the number one concern that I have is they will feed you more of the same if they’re clicking on one thing, it’ll keep going down that hole. And I find that that can be pretty toxic. When it comes to misinformation. It can be toxic, no matter what their interests are. You can be looking for one thing and it veers you in the to a different direction. That seems like a harmless thing. 


Amy Jussel  16:52  

But it happens not just on YouTube, for instance, with our recommendation algorithms, but on even Amazon, you know, if you look at some of the lack of information on COVID, for instance, it will populate accordingly. And if you look at one book, like I didn’t know that, and it would just be do more of that. So you’re getting more and more disinformation. So it’s, I think, from a critical thinking standpoint, that is, that is my biggest bugaboo. 


Amy Jussel  17:23  

And frankly, Book Two, I’m going to be starting to think about addressing either misinformation or smart speakers. I haven’t kind of go in between the two I’m not sure which the elementary crowd needs to work with first I’m kind of thinking smart speakers because Alexa is becoming so big, and how much parents are relying on Alexa without thinking through the media literacy behind it, both privacy and practices, and safety and voice prevention? All those those little things?


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  17:51  

Yes, please, I need schooling. I don’t use a smart speaker. But it’s like I have no understanding of those concepts. So yes, we need your smarts, breaking it down and helping us get it and helping us help our students and children get it.


Amy Jussel  18:08  

Well, I my nephew, for instance, has young ones at home. And I it’s so interesting, because he’s just all in on anything that makes life easier. And that’s, that’s a very, that’s a very common thing that parents, but they don’t really stop to think about some of the data being mined on that from the smart speaker perspective. And now voiceprints and AI are becoming quite sophisticated. 


Amy Jussel  18:33  

And, you know, again, the asking the right questions of where will it be used? And why and how, you know, how will this change their worldview? depending on what’s being fed to them, you know, what language is it being fed to them in? What is the tone? Is it? Is it gendered? Is it a female talking to you all the time? Is it a male talking to you, which one has most prominent? It’s they’re just so many different issues that they should be thinking about? Because it skews their worldview?


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  19:01  

Yes, yes. So how can others help get us out of like the status quo of just consuming and change? I’m looking at schools, how can we be changing the school landscape using the lens that you’re using? What might be a suggestion or two you’d have for schools and educators?


Amy Jussel  19:23  

Well, again, I come from the experiential standpoint and the relatability standpoint. So I think if you can tap into what is current and relevant with whatever grade you’re teaching, whether it’s Minecraft, or, you know, any kind of specifics, it could be relational stuff, it could be dating, it could be a teen show, it could be tick tock, you know, depending on what their media is that they’re consuming. Teachers are aware there, they know what is different happening right now.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  19:56  



Amy Jussel  19:57  

It’s important to us. The media that is in front of them to, again, I hate to use the word counter market all the time, but to to open up the inquiry and just spin it into Have you considered Have you thought about this have you and and also, you know what the parents looking at the sharing thing as they call it with the parents constantly sharing the pictures, the visuals, the kids doing cute things or kids, you know, the awards they’re getting, all of those come at a privacy cost. And from a facial recognition cost. There’s a lot of data being collected there. 


Amy Jussel  20:38  

To the kids have any choice in that I think we need to start asking about child rights about student rights when students start thinking about their own schools and how educational edtech and apps are being used. How much of that is being tracked how much of it is forming a dossier on who they are and what their behaviors are and what their acumen is for a given subject? You know, is it pigeonholing them? Is it opening them up to future thought later from college boards, this and that, who can scrape that data? 


Amy Jussel  21:13  

You know, all those things become question marks. I don’t think that that schools are even aware of the amount of leakage with third party apps, for instance, and how, what seems like a simple scheduling or or school bus schedule or whatever can turn into more data that’s being bought and sold with PII, which is personal, you know, personally, private, identifiable information, you know, that kind of thing. So they say it’s anonymized. 


Amy Jussel  21:44  

But again, you have to look at what anonymized means when you can run it through some AI and some machine tools and realize that it can quickly start pointing directly to locations and people and this and that it can take a lot of that anonymity out of their awareness.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  22:02  

Yeah, definitely. Boy, I think another future project for you, in addition to these books, could be a download top five topics educators need to address with our students and top five topics parents need to address with our students and have a download and charge us for it because you frame things through a really important and specialized lens. And my brain, like where do I even start on that conversation? 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  22:29  

So I know, I would value that. And even as a parent, my girls are in their 20s. But I’d love to look at that and, and just have those conversations with my girls. And they may have the answers to all these things. But I’d like to raise their awareness to because there’s so much more to social media. So in your spare time, could you like make that happen Amy?


Amy Jussel  22:48  

Yeah, actually, I do a lot of blog posts. So maybe that’ll be my next blog post, you’re giving me good ideas here.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  22:55  

Yay, yay, I want to ship to a little bit on you. So um, this is I call this my turbo time. And I love talking to guests and hearing their big ideas in their projects. But I also want our listeners to hear about the person. So I have a couple of questions for you. Are you ready? 


Amy Jussel  23:16  



Maureen O’Shaughnessy  23:18  

So what’s the last book you read?


Amy Jussel  23:21  

The current one at my bedside is is called remember, and it’s by Lisa Genova, it’s, it’s the author of Still Alice, I don’t know if you saw that media, but it’s about dementia and things like that, and, and forgetfulness, and just the difference between my parents recently passed, and my dad was very down that dementia path. And for those of us in the next generation, we’re totally paranoid if we can’t find our car keys, or forget where you run out the door, like I forgot where I parked the car, you know, targets. 


Amy Jussel  23:55  

So I am reading that book, because it’s all about neuroscience, and how the brain works, and the hippocampus and all that. And that relates to learning in some really interesting ways that talks about, you know, writing things down and how students can, you know, practice for the test by writing things down as opposed to just keyboarding and inputting the phone, etc. And why that retains that information as well. 


Amy Jussel  24:21  

So, even though you think it’s oh, this is probably about older people, or dementia or whatever, it’s really not. It’s about the brain. It’s all about brain science. So that’s kind of a cool one. And it’s not sciency it’s very user friendly. I like that one.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  24:35  

Nice, yes. How about two inspirational folks you’d love to meet?


Amy Jussel  24:41  

Ah, gosh, that one’s harder because I just I also recently read catch and kill which was Ronan Farrow’s book about media, how some of the larger stories can be stifled and stymied and kind of they have the data But they sort of stuff it. And I think that he’s been a very interesting investigative reporter which again, applies to my interest areas because once you start lifting underneath the carpet, you start finding some really interesting media tethers and going like, ah, oh, wow. 


Amy Jussel  25:20  

And my dad was a he was the head of the investigative service for naval investigative service overseas. He was a I’m a military brat basic. So I drew on my two parents, my mom was a journalist, my dad was a investigative type. So I became sort of an investigative journalist. So I think, would be a cool one. I think he’s interesting. I just, I don’t. I didn’t know much about him until I started reading that book. 


Amy Jussel  25:49  

And then I started reading what he keeps discovering, and boy, he keeps unearthing some really good stuff to the point where it’s become almost comedic. Like, if you got him after you, you better watch it, find some stuff. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  26:02  



Amy Jussel  26:03  

So it’s important to be able to lift and reveal whether it’s in school or whether it’s, you know, not not McCrea can make trouble. But to get to truth, right to get to follow the money trail, follow the all the things that we teach in media literacy, who paid for this? You know, why did this happen? You know, why did this make headline news? You know, who picked it up? Who didn’t pick it up? You know, all those are media literacy questions, and he feeds right into that.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  26:31  

Love it. How about a TED Talk that inspires you.


Amy Jussel  26:37  

I have not been using TED talks as much as I used to, I used to be sort of addicted to them. And I, I did like a lot of the TEDx teen ones, because I found that the youth, for the most part, gave me the hope and the promise that I was missing elsewhere. And so I’ve written about a lot of them. And I would say, definitely, the little MDGs with, with Dylan, who he was 15, at the time, he’s now Well, fast forward probably 10 years, he’s probably mid 20s, probably 26 ish. 


Amy Jussel  27:16  

I did sort of have done and now look back at some of the teams that inspired me, Jack, and Drake. You know, Eric Martin and, and some of the writing that I did when blogs were really big, and blogs have sort of seen their day. My long form writing, I’ve taken to Twitter, and that’s where I hang out now, mostly. But those seeing that that and now and what they’ve done with it has given me a lot of inspiration, because it shows that youth and an education, when seated really early as teens and younger, have turned into some really productive people trying to do good things with media and good things with tech, and not just, you know, creating the next XYZ dating app, you know, they’re actually doing cool stuff, you know, AI or whatever. And they do have these core competencies of privacy and safety and, you know, a greater good for the world. 


Amy Jussel  28:07  

So those are the kinds of TED talks that I really like.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  28:10  

Absolutely. I like being inspired to hear you, what’s the passion you bring to educating youth on critical thinking.


Amy Jussel  28:21  

I’m gonna go back with it, the hands on, I really think that show Intel and doing things with them. demos are the best, you know, whether it’s getting them to say it, it’s I am not a fan of sage on the stage. I am not a fan of preach and teach. I really think when you can set it up again, using those tools and persuasive triggers. If you know that motivation with the students, that they get the aha moment. 


Amy Jussel  28:50  

There is nothing more rewarding to me than watching them go like, Ah, okay, yeah, that’s what they Oh, okay, I got that. And that kind of critical thinking getting that aha moment is just gold to me. Because they take it they feel empowered by it. And then they share it with their friends. They become your, your peer to peer Viral Marketing Evangelistas.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  29:16  

Absolutely. Yes. 


Amy Jussel  29:18  

Like hey did you know this and that, you know, and they become in the know.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  29:22  

Exactly, yeah, they’re the pros, and that feels good. And that perpetuates, wanting to learn and do more. It’s such a wonderful cycle. What is one tip you would suggest to help youth be savvy consumers?


Amy Jussel  29:35  

I think I would go back to engaging with activities that are going to see that inquiry early on the savvy consumer side of it. I think looking at things like product placements in shows and movies in digital environments is a good way to look at things like that so they understand what’s embedded in there. In addition to product placement, there are things that we can teach us early on packaging. When you look at what colors are used to entice, you know, what symbols, what themes. 


Amy Jussel  30:10  

What does that just a simple trip to the grocery store? What’s new and improved? You know, what to how do they determine what is free? For instance, when they say a game, freemium, things like that, why? Why is the fiscal motivation? A big player? Gaming, gaming is a big deal, because they’re always being sold stuff in app purchases, games, things like that.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  30:37  

Yeah. So Amy, what is something most folks don’t know about you?


Amy Jussel  30:44  

Let’s see. Well, I already mentioned I’m a military brat. So I’ve lived all over the globe, which puts me in an interesting macro lens for the rest of the world, because I look one way but I act another in terms of standing from a larger lens. I was always a minority, even though I am a blonde, white cisgender straight female, I look like a you know, there’s Barbie. I lived in Japan, I lived in DC, I lived in Hawaii, I lived in areas where I was not the norm. 


Amy Jussel  31:24  

And so I think that frames a lot of my understanding of the need for diversity and inclusion and different perspectives and understanding the larger lens of how this all matters with representation and media. Not everybody is alike. And it’s really, really important that media reflects all the different ages and stages and colors and races and genders. And it just, it’s really important. That’s how people take in their information and frame their identity.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  31:59  

Absolutely, yes. And I like to wind up interviews with a magic wand moment. So, Amy, if you had a magic wand and could apply one lens that all students would use to filter their online consumption? What would that lens be?


Amy Jussel  32:21  

Filter their online consumption. I mean, that’s got to be their brain back to the neuroscience of between their ears, that is their filter, they need to be able to assess and analyze constantly, particularly the money trails, he paid for it. Why was it made? What does it want me to do? The motivations? All of those are the techniques, you know, what was used? And why and what actions can you take to respond to some of these things? I think the critical thinking that comes from the brain is imperative. At every agent stage. 


Amy Jussel  33:00  

That’s the lens I want them to take. Lightly. Yeah, great, big question authority on my, on my forehead as a child, I was constantly why you know why? And even with my dad, who was military type, you know, he was like, you would never make it in the I was very interested in the FBI and some of the things that were being done there. Yeah, you would never make it because you’re always asking why you can’t take a directive to save yourself. 


Amy Jussel  33:29  

Always want to know why. Why do you? Why does that happen? Why? Why do you want me to do that? I’m not going to just blindly follow that.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  33:37  

And look where that has led you to help us and our youth ask why and be savvy about digital media. So Amy, thank you so much for joining us today.


Amy Jussel  33:49  

For absolutely thank you for having


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  34:00  

Amy is so knowledgeable and on fire to get us to think about what media is trying to sell and to be savvy consumers. She just can’t stop sharing amazing resources. After the show. She sent me powerful examples of youth doing good. Referring to the TED Talk question from our interview. Check it out in the show notes. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  34:27  

I would encourage parents and educators to look at Amy’s book and the 10s of free digital media resources at It is geared to young children, but that’s a great place to start for all ages. Then I would go to our shaping youth site. The goal of shaping youth is to use the power of media for positive change. And I know I am way over my head with the content Amy has available Wanna deter vaping. She has an amazing blog post loaded with resources and the right and wrong ways to engage teens in this conversation. See the link in the show notes. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  35:11  

I could spend hours learning about media literacy strategies for engaging youth in powerful conversations, and the latest research just by unpacking that one blog. And that’s without going to the resources at the national media literacy site, also noted in the show notes. In fact, Amy has inspired me, with my leadership students. I’m going to unpack some of Amy’s basics on media literacy, then I’m going to let my students work in small groups, dive in and unpack a topic from a site and then teach it to the rest of our students. From there, we’ll practice counter marketing, and use the tools to send a healthier message to our youth. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  35:54  

At some point, we’ve all been exposed to the concept of product placement, what’s near us in the grocery store at the checkout stand, branding, and packaging. We also know that motivation drives why we do what we do. down to simple things like I remember being motivated to make my kindergarten daughter’s birthday special. So I worked hard on the experiential artists birthday party that she wanted to have with her friends, were motivated to be good parents to appear a certain way to our peers. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  36:33  

So now it’s time for us to look at motivation and how media uses it. And to look at constructs, what’s being included or left out of a message, or out of our social studies curriculum. And then what triggers and motivations are ads playing into what’s the counter argument, we need to become aware of the big picture and motivations and question them aloud around our youth. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  37:00  

Let’s get our youth thinking about and challenging the messages media is sending them. Thank you for being a part of this education evolution.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  37:21  

I know how challenging it is to make changes inside your own school or community. I spent years traveling working with schools around the world on creating learner centered programs and it always struck me on how much schools were able to get them with the right tools and guidance. If you’re ready to make changes like this in your school, or to start a new school, let’s talk and put together an action plan. Visit for a free 15 minute call. And let’s see if we’re a good fit for more work together.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  38:05  

Education Evolution listeners, you are the ones to ensure we create classrooms where each student is seen, heard, valued and thriving. We need you Let’s go out and reach every student today. Leaving a rating and review for this podcast lets others know that you find it a value add it gets in the earbuds of more educational leaders like you. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  38:33  

Thank you listeners. signing off. This is Maureen O’Shaughnessy, your partner in boldly reimagining education


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