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Media Literacy

Missouri legislature’s bill would include media literacy in the curriculum

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KANSAS CITY, Missouri – Bill proposed in Jefferson City could one day affect what children learn in the classroom.

The law would add media literacy training to the public school curriculum.

“I decided that this state needs to prepare our children and give them a basis for evaluating and processing information they receive from so many different sources,” said Rep. Jim Murphy, R-St. Louis.

Murphy got the idea from a voter who was a professor with a Ph.D. in media literacy.

His bill would create a 14-person commission made up of lawmakers, educators, a journalism professor, and experts in media literacy, mental health, and technology.

The group would conduct a study of media literacy teaching in Missouri public schools. Based on the commission’s report, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education would then develop a plan to teach children these skills from kindergarten through senior year.

“When you see something, what are they trying to get you to do? How are they trying to influence you and is it factual? We can teach that …. and I’m really excited that we have an opportunity to do it”, said Murphy.

Studies have shown that providing digital literacy training to people can help differentiate and slow the spread of misinformation.

Earlier this month, 41 Action News spoke to Jacob Montgomery, associate professor of political science at Washington University in St. Louis.

He is one of the authors of a recent study examining a media literacy intervention that Facebook conducted in 2017.

At the top of the news feeds, the company posted a link for “Tips on Spotting False News” such as: B. skeptical of shocking headlines and after the source.

Montgomery and other researchers showed study participants the tips and then asked them to rate the accuracy of several headlines. Compared to participants who didn’t see the tips, those who did were better at spotting fake stories.

“What the study showed is that people are giving rules and tips to help them navigate the world of social media where we constantly have to judge whether this post is true or false,” said Montgomery.

Back in Jefferson City, Murphy believes there is enough support to get his legislation passed.

“We hope, of course, that our children learn to live a little better in this connected world,” he said.

The law on media literacy was read twice in-house. A public hearing would be the next step, but one is not planned yet.

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