Media literacy

Teaching media literacy viewed as a positive, but schools are slow to add it

WASHINGTON (CNS) – Media literacy has been shown to have positive effects. But schools across the United States have been slow to add it to their curriculum.

“How are we as a nation? We are very poor, ”said Helen Lee Bouygues, Founder and President of the Reboot Foundation, who stresses that media education is a necessary element in developing critical thinking and“ in fact, teaching media education systematically in schools ”.

Bouygues added: “It’s a real public health crisis, isn’t it? We are not helping ourselves or our younger generation to be better consumers of information. This is the real problem.

Illinois became the first state to require media literacy for its high school students, and that was just last summer.

The law says that the educational unit must include the purpose of media messages and how they are made; how the media influences behavior and what views are included; and the importance of digesting multiple media sources.

Social media giants were floored by coals during the October congressional hearings over their so far unchecked power and the negative effects they are having on users, especially young people, who appear to be more responsive to posts unscrupulous, not to mention the impact of trolling by people who have nothing better to do with their lives.

Just because young people can find their way on social media more easily than their elders does not mean that they are better at detecting inaccuracies and total absurdities. And this is not a recent phenomenon. A 2017 report from Common Sense Media, released shortly after the 2016 election, reported that 31% of children who shared a story online later found out that it was inaccurate.

Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels once said that a lie, if repeated often enough, becomes accepted as the truth. There is some truth in this; Researchers at Vanderbilt University have found that children as young as 5 years old use repetition as a clue to truth.

A 2020 joint survey by four U.S. universities found that people under the age of 25 were more likely to believe disinformation about COVID-19 than older people, regardless of their political affiliation.

But this is hardly limited to young people. A September 2020 essay by Bouygues published by the Reboot Foundation tested the tolerance of older Americans for sensationalism and inaccuracy.

In his own research, he found that a “considerably larger” percentage of adults aged 60 and over preferred “click bait” – the boxes at the bottom of web pages that say things like “See what. look like your favorite ’80s stars ”- more than young Americans, but all age groups preferred clickbait titles over neutral titles.

Research has also found that those who spend more hours on social media, regardless of their age, tend to display a reduced preference for clickbait. Considering how much time you have to spend on social media to tone down your liking for clickbait, this can be a mixed blessing. Specifically, the more people use social media, the poorer their judgment on news.

“Internet users, especially young people, think they are good at looking at information online, but they are not as good at identifying fake news as they think they are,” Bouygues said in the report.

“Overconfidence is one of the main weaknesses in browsing information online,” she said. “If someone thinks they’re good at identifying fake news, but they’re not very good at it, they are likely to have a lot more problems with fake news than others who assess their own abilities. with more precision. “

While there is certainly cause for concern, Bouygues told CNS, keep in mind that email and the internet have only been a part of our lives for about 25 years.

“People read an article, watch a video or play a game about how to improve how to identify fake news, there is a change before and after. You can actually teach people to identify that information better, that is, to be better consumers of information, where you train your mind to verify the source, ”she said.

She suggested “triangulation” as a method of reducing the clutter of the mind.

For example, “when you search for something on Google, rather than clicking on the first article – 60% of people will click on the first two articles from Google – go to the second or third page of results,” he said. she explained. “These are tips that people can do more and improve their ability to be better information identifiers.”

Bouygues spoke of the reasons why it created the Reboot Foundation, saying that “when you find something, an association, it comes from personal experience”.

“My daughter is now 11,” she said. “The reason I tried the foundation, originally, (was) as a mom, I really wanted to understand better how to better educate my daughter in light of the fact that we don’t educate like we used to. 30 or 40 years ago. “

She added, “I found tons of articles explaining why screens are bad for you, but we found very little about what we do differently in the digital world. What we need to do more is better education in critical thinking. I found that there were a lot of resources out there, but very few practices (details). It becomes very sleepy very quickly.

Bouygues said: “If I ask these questions, I should make these resources available to other parents because of the importance of the subject. “

His confession: “You are going to laugh at me, I even bought ‘Critical Thinking for Dummies’. I tried to go through 20 pages and fell asleep.

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Pattison is media editor for Catholic News Service.

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When you keep an eye on the TV, what do you see? What do you like or dislike? What are your concerns and criticisms? Be as general or as specific as you want. Send your comments to: Mark Pattison, Media Editor, Catholic News Service, 3211 Fourth St. NE, Washington, DC 20017.

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