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Media Literacy Examples

Should media literacy be a compulsory subject in school?

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It’s Media Literacy Week, so we’re dedicating today’s student opinion and lesson of the day to the role of misinformation, disinformation and fake news in our society.

Do you consider yourself an accomplished news consumer? What about your friends Is your generation good at distinguishing reliable from unreliable information on the Internet? Why?

Do you think spreading misinformation is a problem? If so, how dangerous do you think it is and why? For example, is it dangerous for you personally? To your family, friends, school or community? To our democracy? To the world in general? If yes how?

Should media literacy be a compulsory subject in school?

In “To Detect Misinformation in the Media, Teach a Generation While Young,” writes Amy Yee:

The Instagram post seemed strange to Amulya Panakam, a 16-year-old high school student who lives near Atlanta. In February, a friend showed her a sensational headline on her phone that read, “Kim Jong Un Personally Kills Soldiers With Covid-19!” Of course, the news wasn’t real. “I was immediately suspicious,” said Ms. Panakam. She searched online and found no media reporting the fake story. But her friends had already shared it on social media.

Ms. Panakam was amazed at the number of times students “grossly deal with misinformation and spread it without knowing it,” she said. However, media literacy is not on the school curriculum.

So Ms. Panakam contacted Media Literacy Now, a Boston-based nonprofit dedicated to media literacy. With her help, she wrote to her state and local representatives to discuss the introduction of media literacy in schools.

The subject was hardly new. Long before the Internet, many scientists analyzed the impact of the media on society. For the past few decades, colleges have offered media studies to examine advertising, propaganda, prejudice, the portrayal of people in films, and more.

In the digital age, media literacy also includes understanding how websites benefit from fictional news, how algorithms and bots work, and how to closely examine suspicious websites that mimic real news.

She continues:

Online misinformation may seem like an incurable virus, but social media companies, policymakers, and nonprofits are starting to address the problem more directly. In March, major internet companies like Facebook and Twitter began removing misleading Covid-19 posts. And many policy makers are pushing for stricter rules on harmful content.

What needs more attention, however, is more and earlier education. Teaching media literacy to teenagers and younger students can protect readers and listeners from misinformation, just as teaching good hygiene reduces illness.

And she writes:

There is no silver bullet to disarm misinformation. However, states’ educational policy on media literacy usually includes first steps, such as the establishment of expert committees to advise educational departments or the development of media literacy standards. Next comes the recommendation of curricula, the training of educators, the funding of school media centers and specialists, monitoring and evaluation.

States set guidelines for education departments, although local counties often have ultimate control over curricula.

Even without statutory regulation, teachers can incorporate media competence concepts into existing classes or offer electives.

Students, read the entire article, then tell us:

  • Have you ever fallen for misinformation or fake news? Have you ever unwittingly spread it? What happened? Can misinformation have real consequences? Give examples.

  • How many viral posts – articles, videos, or photos – do you click each week? How many do you share on social media on average? How often do you check that what you share or comment is real? How do you find out? How much do you care if an item that claims to be real is actually it?

  • Where do you get your news from – television, social media, newspapers, radio, videos, websites, podcasts, apps, word of mouth? How reliable do you think this content is? Why? Which media sources do you trust most? Which ones are you suspicious of? Why? Do you consider yourself an accomplished news consumer? Do you think you can tell when something is fake news? How well do you think you can distinguish between fact, fiction, opinion and propaganda?

  • Does your school teach media literacy? Do your teachers build media literacy classes into their compulsory classes or are there electives that do this? Do you think any of these efforts will be successful? What, if anything, helped you improve your media or news literacy?

  • Should all schools offer media literacy classes in some form? Should media literacy be a compulsory subject in school? Why or why not?

About student opinion

This column contains all of our questions about student opinions.
Do you have an idea for a student opinion question? Tell us about it.
Learn more about how to use our free daily distance learning typing prompts.

Students aged 13 and over in the United States and the United Kingdom and 16 and over in other countries are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the staff of the Learning Network, but please note that once your comment is accepted, it will be published.

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