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The importance of media literacy in our media-driven culture – the sundial

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According to the latest report from eMarketer, the average American spends up to 12 hours each day interacting with media. More time is spent watching TV and scrolling social media than having a good night’s sleep. Our society has become a media-driven culture, yet only a few universities offer courses that teach students about critical media consumption.

In order to fully capture the media that is flooding our society, it should be mandatory for universities to offer media literacy courses. The Center for Media Competence defines media competence as the ability to access, analyze, evaluate and shape communication in all forms using media and digital technology.

During an introductory course in mass communication at California State University, Northridge, I learned the concept of media literacy and the importance of developing media literacy from Dr. Know Bobbie Eisenstock. After the semester I was able to look at an advertisement, read a news article or watch a TV show and question, decipher and evaluate the information presented to me.

Facebook users were furious when they discovered that their personal information was being sold to the Cambridge Analytica company to customize content on their Facebook feeds. If media literacy courses were offered, more people would be able to analyze the content they are consuming and more people would know what media companies can do.

Like many other CSUs, the CSUN is offering a course on news and media literacy starting this semester.

As part of a curriculum change for CSUN’s journalism division, a new course called JOUR 365, News Literacy, will focus on developing news literacy to assess prejudice, opinion and transparency in the media. The course is led by Dr. Eisenstock and will fulfill a journalistic and upper elective level and also be accessible for non-journalistic courses.

Our brains are constantly picking up information that appears in TV shows, movies, music, books, social media, and advertisements. To be media literacy means to be able to apply the skills necessary to question the veracity of the media before believing the information.

CSUN students in all majors should take the Communication Literacy course, and all non-CSUN students must request some type of media literacy course in their school’s curriculum. As a culture that constantly interacts with media, we are never taught how to properly use that media. Students can only benefit from the information in a media literacy course. The media is going nowhere and it is time we as a society demand that we understand what we use for 12 hours each day.

Editor’s Note: The original story had the wrong name and line. The correct name is Raychel Stewart

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