What is media literacy? How has this idea that the media is more than just entertainment come into play? Media literacy is the ability to look at media navigate through the information. Media literacy sounds like a skill that we should all know how to do, but the amount of uninformed individuals is astonishing. There are so many people on the internet that do not have the skills or knowledge to analyze, collect,  and interpret the media. Being media literate is important to all those roaming the internet. It encourages critical thinking, self expression, civic responsibility, etc. Current issues are displayed on TV, newspapers, and through various social media sites; if we are not able to decipher through the biases and truth then we are all not being responsible media consumers. These are extremely important skills to have, which is why media literacy courses should be taught in schools. Even younger people are capable of learning media skills, and applying them to their lives.

What should be taught:

Media Literacy Basics- What does media literacy do? Media literacy requires active critical thinking and inquiry, expands concept literacy, builds and reinforces skills, develops well informed participants, etc. There are so many things that media literacy accomplishes for us. In order to better understand media literacy, I encourage everyone to pay attention to what media they are consuming, and the effect that media has on you. 

Media Ownership and Regulation- Though it may seem like something that you do not have to worry about, being in the know about who owns and regulates your media. There is a lot of freedom in the media, there are some government regulated print: 

The Internet has also gone largely unregulated, despite congressional efforts to restrict some controversial content. Broadcast media, however, are subject to most government regulation. Radio and television broadcasters must obtain a license from the government because, according to American law, the public owns the airwaves. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issues these licenses and is in charge of regulating the airwaves (Sparknotes). 

The regulation of media is important to learn about. Media regulation laws are enforced by law, the rules have various goals such as protecting the public’s interest.

Media Privacy and Security- This is possibly the number one most important aspect of media literacy that everyone should learn about. This topig goes back to one of the first discussions in this course. How important is privacy and security to you? Being in control of your own content is extremely important. One of the largest parts of the media is social media. That has become one of the biggest parts of our society (even if we wish it wasn’t). Being on social media, though fun, is also very risky. It is important to be educated on this topic in order to better protect not only yourself, but your online personas. 

Misinformation, Hoaxes, Conspiracies- This aspect of the media is another important one, even if it seems like it isn’t. Fake news has become a larger issue in the past years. There are many sources that are either not credible, or not real; this proves to be a big issue for media consumers. If we are not checking our sources, and looking at credible websites misinformation can spread like wildfire. Once we educate more people on how to detect information that is actually factual, the internet will become a better place. 

Advertising and Persuasion- How often have you been scrolling on social media and found yourself watching, or viewing an advertisement. Now, how often do you get intrigued by whatever is being advertised, and do more research. I know when it comes to me, I often get sucked into ads, and end up buying useless items. If we can educate more about these advertisements, we can all learn how to better recognize the “algorithm.” Learning about targeted advertisements and how to recognize scams is an important skill. 

Representation in Media- Representation in media is one of my personal favorite topics to educate on. There is obviously an “ideal” figure that is always represented in the media. For both men and women there are standards that are set for what is attractive, successful, and healthy. If we continue to see mostly these figures, we will never evolve as a society. Including more cultures, races, and sexualities in the media will greatly impact us. This will especially impact the younger generations, as they are heavily influenced by what they see represented in the media. 

Learning more about media literacy will take education in the right direction. I believe that it is important to start this education as young as possible. Technology will be a huge part of learning, especially because of the times we are in now. Online courses (like this one) will lead to more time spent online overall; if we learn more about how to safely and effectively use the internet, it will greatly impact everyone. Teaching about these aspects of media literacy will create a better environment for students. These courses will teach critical thinking skills, analyzing skills, and overall knowledge on media topics. Media literacy will help students with virtually all of their other studies. If we can educate more people on how to navigate through the media, we can take great strides in the right direction: creating a safer more inclusive social environment. 

LEARN MORE – Crash Course Media Literacy Preview