Media literacy should be mandatory for all students, regardless of major – North Texas Daily
In a 2018 study by the US Department of Education, the study showed that 16%, or 31.8 million Americans, did not have “sufficient comfort or skill with technology to use a computer”. In the ever-changing technical landscape in which we live, it is imperative that media literacy be a required course in schools and especially college, regardless of your area of specialization or career. We all live in a digital world, so there’s no reason not to learn how to engage in it civilly.
Media literacy, according to the National Association of Media Literacy Education, is defined as the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, create, and act using all forms of communication. The idea behind media literacy is to empower people to be critical thinkers and decision makers, effective communicators and active citizens. And it all comes down to being able to have a working understanding of how to navigate the internet and social media, in particular.
With the degree of digitalization in the world we live in, media literacy courses should be the topic of the day rather than basic courses focusing on the negative effects of social media. If more people could watch with a critical eye that didn’t reflect their politics but rather value for the truth, you wouldn’t have to worry about fake news because it would lose value. This is why it is essential for college students to learn about media literacy, as only around 20% of students aged 16 to 24 have digital literacy, according to this same 2018 study by the Ministry of Education.
With the rise of fake news, a 20% digital literacy rate for college-aged students is very concerning. But it is very heartening to know that at least 14 states have taken strong legislative steps to introduce media literacy in elementary school. The implementation of these media literacy courses is essential so that children can really acquire the tools necessary to navigate safely and deliberately on social networks.
For many students, going to college is the first time they leave home, and this lack of experience in exploring different worldviews and perspectives can seep into the way they use their social media. Some students don’t know how to tell right from wrong on the internet, or the difference between fake news and satire. Being able to think critically about the media you consume on a daily basis is important in stopping the spread and spread of misinformation, especially since some foreign countries, like Russia, are actively doing this right now.
Media literacy is not anti-media, in fact, it is pro-media. It is about being able to freely interact with digital media as a good and responsible human being. The earlier we embark on the path of media literacy for students, the safer and healthier the use of social media will be for everyone.
Featured artwork by Miranda Thomas