Media literacy should be required for all college students regardless of major – North Texas Daily
In a 2018 study by the US Department of Education, the study found that 16 percent, or 31.8 million Americans, do not have “sufficient comfort or skill in the technology to use a computer.” In the constantly changing technical landscape in which we live, it is imperative that media literacy is a compulsory subject in schools, and particularly in universities, regardless of your field of study or professional field. We all live in a digital world, so there should be no reason why we shouldn’t learn to be civic in it.
According to the Federal Association for Media Competence Education, media competence is defined as the ability to use, analyze, evaluate, shape and act in all forms of communication. The idea behind media literacy is to empower people to be critical thinkers and doers, effective communicators, and active citizens. And it all boils down to having a functional understanding of how to navigate the internet and especially social media.
Given the digital world we live in, media literacy courses should be the topic of the day rather than basic courses that focus on the negative effects of social media. If more people could look with a critical eye that does not reflect their politics, but a value for the truth, one would not have to worry about fake news, because it would lose its value. For this reason, college students should definitely be taught media literacy, as only about 20 percent of students between the ages of 16 and 24 are digitally literate, according to the same 2018 study by the Ministry of Education.
With the rise of fake news, a 20 percent digital literacy rate is very worrying for college-aged students. However, it is very comforting to know that at least 14 states have put in place strong legislations to introduce media literacy into elementary schools. Taking these media literacy courses is key for kids to actually acquire the tools to navigate social media safely and purposefully.
For many college students, college is their first time away from home, and this lack of experience exploring different worldviews and perspectives can affect the way they use their social media. Some students don’t know how to tell good from bad on the internet, or the difference between fake news and satire. Thinking critically about the media you consume on a daily basis is important in stopping the spread and spread of disinformation, especially since certain foreign countries like Russia are actively doing it as we speak.
Media literacy is not anti-media, but pro-media. It’s about being a good, responsible person being able to use digital media freely. The sooner we take the college student media literacy path, the safer and healthier it can be for everyone to use social media.
Selected illustration by Miranda Thomas