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Media Literacy

Media literacy teaching is seen as positive, but schools are slow to add it


WASHINGTON (CNS) – Media literacy has had a positive impact. But schools in the United States have been slow to incorporate it into their curriculum.

“How are we as a nation? We are very poor, “said Helen Lee Bouygues, founder and president of the Reboot Foundation, who emphasizes media literacy as a necessary component in developing critical thinking and” actually systematically teaching media literacy in schools. “

Bouygues added: “It’s a real public health crisis, isn’t it? We’re not helping ourselves or our younger generation to be better information consumers. That is the actual problem.”

Illinois was the first state to require media literacy training for its high school students – and that was only last summer.

The law states that the educational unit should include the purpose of media messages and their creation; how media influence behavior and which perspectives are included; and the importance of processing multiple media sources.

The social media giants were let alone in the October Congressional hearings about their untested power and the negative impact it is having on users, especially the young people who seem to be more prone to unscrupulous news the effects of trolling on people who have nothing better to do with their lives.

Just because young people find their way around social media more easily than their elders does not mean that they are better able to spot inaccuracies and utter nonsense. And that’s not a new phenomenon. A 2017 report by Common Sense Media released shortly after the 2016 election reported that 31% of children who shared a message online later discovered that it was inaccurate.

The Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels once said that a lie, if it is repeated often enough, will be accepted as truth. There is some truth in that; Vanderbilt University researchers found that children as young as 5 years old use repetition as a clue to the truth.

A joint survey of four U.S. universities in 2020 found that people under 25 are more likely to believe in misinformation about COVID-19 than older people, regardless of political affiliation.

But that is hardly restricted to the youth. A September 2020 essay by Bouygues published by the Reboot Foundation tested older Americans’ tolerance for the sensational and inaccurate.

A separate study found that a “significantly larger” percentage of adults aged 60 and over preferred “clickbait” – the boxes at the bottom of websites that say things like “See what your favorite 80s stars look like now” – more than younger Americans, but that all ages preferred clickbait headlines over neutral headlines.

The study also found that those who spend more hours on social media regardless of their age tended to be less likely to prefer clickbait. Given how much time it takes to spend on social media to dampen your taste for clickbait, this can be a mixed blessing. The more people use social media, the worse their news judgment is.

“Internet users, especially young people, believe they are adept at investigating information online, but they are not nearly as good at identifying fake news as they believe,” Bouygues said in the report.

“A major weakness in navigating information online is overconfidence,” she said. “If someone thinks they can identify fake news well, but not very well at it, they are likely to have a lot more problems with fake news than others who assess their own abilities more precisely.”

While there is definitely cause for concern, Bouygues told CNS, keep in mind that email and the Internet have only been part of our lives for about 25 years.

“People read an article, watch a video, or play a game about how to better spot fake news, there is a change before and after. You can actually teach people to better identify these messages, that is, better consume information, by training the mind to verify the source, ”she said.

She suggested “triangulation” as a method of clearing the clutter.

For example, “When you google something, you go to the second page of results or the third page of results instead of clicking the first article – 60% of people click the first two articles on Google,” she explained. “These are tricks that people can do more of and improve their ability to better identify information.”

Speaking of her reasons for starting the Reboot Foundation, Bouygues said, “When you’ve found something, a non-profit, it comes from a personal experience.”

“My daughter is 11 years old now,” she says. “The reason I originally tried the foundation was (was) because, as a mother, I really wanted to understand better how to raise my daughter better, given the fact that we don’t raise the way we did before 30, 40 years ago. ”

She added, “I’ve found tons of articles on why screens are bad for you, but we’ve found very little about what we do differently in the digital world. What more we need to do is better education in critical thinking. I found that there were a lot of resources out there but very little practical (details). It becomes very sleepy very quickly. “

Bouygues said, “If I am asking these questions, I should make these resources available to other parents because the subject is so important.”

Her confession: “You will laugh at me, I even bought ‘Critical Thinking for Dummies’. I tried to read 20 pages of it and fell asleep. “

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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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