According to medialiteracynow.org media literacy can be defined as, “the ability to: Decode media messages, assess the influence of those messages on thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, [and] create media thoughtfully and conscientiously.”
In a world fueled by 24/7 media, to be media literate is an extremely useful skill. However, despite the near constant onslaught of media, it is safe to say that most people are not familiar with this term, or how to combat some of the more pressing issues, like fake news, confusion, and exploitation that go along with it.
“A study published last year by the Stanford Graduate School of Education testing middle school, high school, and college students’ media literacy suggested most young people don’t have a good understanding of what constitutes ‘fake news’ vs. ‘real news,’” stated The Daily Universe in an article titled, "Studies show lack of media literacy in students has negative impact.”
From this same study, more than 80 percent of the Stanford college students tested were unable to identify biased content from independent news sources supported by groups like lobbying firms as being less reliable than a mainstream news source.
So, although media makes up an integral part of most peoples education, work and even free time activities, unfortunately many of these people don’t question the validity of what is being presented to them. It is this blind faith in the media that contributes to a bigger problem—one that hinders our ability to absorb real, true, trustworthy information.
To be media literate, then, calls for an active critical analysis on the viewers part. But where does one learn of these analytical skills that will help them to decode the media that they interact with everyday?
Some scholars believe that media literacy should be taught to children as young as elementary school age: Neil Andersen, author of Media Works and StreetNOISE in Class, and the editor of Mediacy, the Association for Media Literacy newsletter, for example, told the Center for Media Literacy in an article, “If we train students in basic skills such as reading and arithmetic, if we teach them about their native languages, and the history of their countries, if we do all these things so that they may be useful adults and productive citizens, then we must teach them about the media as well.”
So the question remains, should media literacy be monitored and taught in schools? Leave a comment below with your thoughts!
And be sure to tune into the 8th Annual Media Exchange this year on June 6th at 1:00 to hear more on this topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7ZY7ogF12A