To help combat misinformation, the Digital Citizenship and Media Literacy Act is re-introduced in Congress
In an effort to combat misinformation and disinformation, US Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) has re-introduced a bill designed to help students gain the important skills needed to participate in today’s digital media environment. The bill stalled in a previous congressional session, but media literacy advocates hope for a better outcome this time around.
The Digital Citizenship and Media Literacy Act aims to provide $20 million in federal funding over four years to support media literacy education in grades K-12.
The bill has bicameral support and is also endorsed by media literacy advocates. Erin McNeill is president of the non-profit Media Literacy Now.
“The bill provides funding, grants for states to use to support media literacy education in whatever way the state needs,” McNeill said.
McNeill said 16 states, including California, have already taken some form of legislative action for this education. This bill, she said, would increase opportunities for teacher training and resources in all states.
“If Congress votes in favor of this bill, it shows that, yes, we take this seriously as a way to prepare our young people for citizenship in a democracy. It’s also very important for our national security, and it’s important for public health,” she said.
McNeill said skills for accessing and analyzing media content are needed for K-12 students to spot misinformation and to thrive in today’s digital environment.
“Media literacy is the ability to decode messages in all forms, and then to also understand the systems of media, in other words, understanding why this message appeared before me at this particular moment,” McNeill said.
She said learning to create media thoughtfully and conscientiously is also an important part of media literacy education.
If passed, the proposed legislation will fund grants for state and local educational agencies, non-profit organizations, and public libraries to create programs for digital citizenship and media literacy education.
The Digital Citizenship and Media Literacy Act is co-authored by Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Representative Elissa Slotkin (D-MI). Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is one of the co-sponsors.