Long Island Teacher advocates media literacy in New York schools
HICKSVILLE, NY – A group of educators wants all New York state school students to receive formal education in an area they believe is severely neglected and vital to children’s lives: media literacy. A group called Media Literacy Now is pushing for nationwide legislation introducing formal education, resources, and professional development for media literacy teachers.
Jaclyn Kahn Siegel is a Hicksville resident and the leader of the group in New York. She tells Patch that as a history and special education educator, she sees this need firsthand.
“The amount of media and technology kids hit every day is insane.”
The educators at Media Literacy Now assume that teaching literacy in schools will go hand in hand with teaching media literacy in 2021.
“Our children live in a world with powerful 24/7 media. The time children and young people spend with the media has increased dramatically over the past ten years. Children between the ages of eight and 18 now spend an average of seven hours and 38 minutes a day on entertainment media outside of school, according to recent research. “
“Well used, the media can positively entertain and inform our children. However, since most children are not taught to use media wisely, many media messages contribute to public health problems such as obesity, bullying and aggression, and low self-esteem.” , Depression, negative body image, risky sexual behavior, and substance abuse, among other problems. “
“Media literacy education – which teaches students to apply critical thinking to media messages and use media to create their own messages – is a key skill of the 21st century. Media literacy is also vital to the health and well-being of American children in terms of their future participation in the civil and economic life of our democracy. “
Siegel became interested in this subject when she was writing her thesis on how television can help children learn to read. She says few people were interested in media literacy in 2009, but with the recent emergence of the concept of “fake news” in the last two election cycles and the rise in misinformation during the pandemic, more and more people are becoming aware of the need of media literacy.
“It’s so common in our children’s lives. Children are advertised,” she thought.
The bills call for nationwide standards in media literacy education, the establishment of a media advisory group for public schools, a media library specialist in each district, and professional development for teachers. All along the line, Kahn would like a complete elective for high school students on the subject of media literacy.
“This is a first step for New York,” she said. Several states have laws that regulate media literacy in public schools, but New York doesn’t currently have any.
The bills – the latest being sponsored by Linda Rosenthal, a member of the Manhattan New York Assembly and referred to the Education Committee in January – were carefully crafted to be non-partisan, Kahn says.
What do you think? Do children need formal media literacy training in school? Let us know what you think in the comments.