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Media Literacy

Media literacy experts say it is important for adults and children alike to “keep the fire hose” off television, internet, and music


Social media can be a difficult, hostile place to be. (CNS photo / Sebastiao Moreira, EPA)

WASHINGTON – How many hours a day do you interact with media? It can be more than you think.

It’s one thing to surf the internet. It’s a different thing to watch a favorite TV show or put on those noise-canceling headphones and listen to your favorite music while you work. Or maybe you borrowed an armful of books from the library to sit in your chair while you only get up to eat and the like.

According to Common Sense Media, the average teen spends nine hours a day engaging in entertainment media.

It’s all part of a “fire hose” from the media shooting at us, said Juma Inniss, the Boston media literacy instructor who also advises Media Literacy Now, the leading grassroots organization for media literacy law in the United States.

Part of learning media literacy, Inniss said during an August 18 online lecture he called “Media Literacy 101” is “curbing the fire hose.”

As important as media competence is for adults, it is just as important for young people, whom Inniss described as “the second most impressive phase of human life” after the age of two.

He cited a study by the Center for Media and Child Health in Boston that found that teenagers who listen to more sexualized lyrics and watch more music videos with sexualized lyrics are more likely to have more sex partners and get more sexually transmitted infections than those who do didn’t.

“Music is actually the only medium that actively or passively influences our emotions,” says Inniss. “Listening to pro-social lyrics can increase empathy and pro-social behavior,” adding, “The messages in this song can still affect us without our permission,” even when doing seemingly mundane tasks like cleaning the house.

It’s not just audio, it’s video, he warned. “Thirty years of research has shown that watching media violence leads to more aggressive attitudes and behaviors,” said Inniss. He cited evidence such as the number of mass shootings in the United States and the parade of dead at gunpoint.

“It’s not a coincidence,” he said. “Our culture is changing. Our value systems change, and what we get used to changes. “

Inniss has also tackled one of the hottest potatoes in the media landscape in recent years: fake news.

“One in five teenagers believes the information they find online through Google and Bing is true,” he said, although it wasn’t just teenagers responsible for the 8.7 million shares, reactions and comments on fake news in Presidential election reports on Facebook were responsible for 2016 when Donald Trump won the presidency.

“Only 27% of adults said they were very confident that they would recognize real news from fake news,” said Inniss. “In the same study, teenagers said they were 44% confident that they would spot fake news. … It touches and touches us all in many ways. “

According to Inniss, excessive screen time in the media has been linked to both physical and psycho-emotional consequences in adolescents, from obesity to suicide.

“Researchers have also found that too much screen time can have a neurological effect on the adolescent brain, similar to heroin addiction,” he said, adding that research that included brain mapping of a heroin-addicted and screen-addicted adolescent found that “you Brain “Patterns were similar.”

This is where media literacy comes into play, said Inniss. “Media literacy can help you think critically and gain more control over how media messages affect you,” he said. … media literacy can help us make better life decisions. “

For those interested in gaining more media literacy, there are “five key questions” anyone can ask, Inniss said.

You are: Who created this message? What creative techniques are used to get my attention? How could other people understand this message differently from me? Which lifestyles, values ​​and viewpoints are presented or omitted in this message? And why is this message being sent?

“A lot of media messages are created for one of two reasons: profit or power,” Innis said. The questions are not intended to reflect “a cynical mindset,” he added, but rather “a critically thinking mindset that doesn’t take life at face value. It requires that we go deeper. “

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Pattison is a media editor with the Catholic News Service.

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When you keep an eye on the television, what do you see? What are your likes or dislikes? What are your concerns and criticisms? Be as general or as specific as you wish. Send your comments to: Mark Pattison, Media Editor, Catholic News Service, 3211 Fourth St. NE, Washington, DC 20017.


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