Definition: What is media literacy?
Media literacy refers to the skill to identify information from different media sources, distinguish between real and fake news, and understand the message these outlets are sending. It is a tricky subject to teach as it requires critical thinking and a discerning eye to be able to become literate in this field, and it’s also something adults struggle with. Teaching media literacy not only encompasses the basic skills of seeking the trustworthy information outlets, but it also challenges the reader to think critically, and to exercise good judgement and digital trust.
Why is media literacy important?
Media literacy is an important subject to teach young minds to help them understand whether or not what they’re reading is credible. It is a particularly relevant topic today as shocking news headlines and fake news memes run rampant across the web and into our devices.
Common types of media that encompass media literacy include traditional media such as TV, newspaper, radio, and print publications, as well as online media such as social platforms, articles, blogs, videos, digital advertising, and all other forms of content generation outlet. With the freedom of the internet comes a vast amount of content that has not been vetted by any formal organizations, thus online information must be treated carefully to separate fact from fiction.
Critical thinking is perhaps the most important skill we can impart on students, and using the five W’s is a good way to get them to understand media literacy. When we read a piece of content online, we must challenge what we’re seeing before believing.
What is this article trying to tell me? What news is it reporting on?
Who is this article written for? Is it written in a way that teens would relate to, or does it use language that is more suitable for adults?
When is this article published? Is there a significance in when this piece of content was released (i.e. the announcement of an event, days before an election)?
Where did I see this content? Was it from a credible news source, social media, online advertisement, or elsewhere?
Why do you think the author wants me to believe what they’re writing? What’s the motivation behind this?
Information and media literacy falls under the wider umbrella of digital literacy, but is such a large area of focus that it has become a standalone subject on its own. We have to recognize that the digital native generation are no longer purely receiving news and information through traditional media, and have to train them in exercising their better judgment when absorbing online content.
Media Literacy Activities
Here are some activities and tips you can do to engage in media literacy education:
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