Media Literacy for Young People Is Crucial — But Rarely Taught in Schools

Analysis tells us that younger folks between the ages of 8 and 18 spend an average of 11 hours a day engaged with some type of media, and but we educate them little or no about analyze and perceive what they’re seeing and listening to. Not like another international locations, america doesn’t constantly embody media literacy coaching in public college curricula. Because of this, younger individuals are immersed in — and too usually manipulated by — a media ecosystem that they don’t perceive.

A brand new e book, The Media and Me: A Information to Vital Media Literacy for Younger Individuals, by Undertaking Censored and the newly fashioned Media Revolution Collective, goals to alter that by giving younger folks an important primer on actively interact with, critique and push again on media. Within the unique Truthout interview that follows, Reina Robinson, a contributor to The Media and Me who can also be the CEO of the Middle for City Excellence, a nonprofit that fosters resilience in system-involved youth, discusses why crucial media literacy is an important talent that needs to be taught to all college students.

Peter Handel: Younger folks spend an unprecedented period of time interacting with media, and so they usually “media multitask.” Inform us what this implies and the way younger individuals are impacted by it.

Raina Robinson: As a substitute training educator, I’ve noticed the appreciable period of time youth interact with media and observe “media multitasking.” To my understanding, “media multitasking” refers to utilizing a number of mediums concurrently, like texting on a mobile phone whereas watching a film. Many youth have grown up digital and are actively in an atmosphere the place entry to media is omnipresent.

Reina Robinson, CEO of the Middle for City Excellence.

It may be argued that practising media multitasking can present youth with sooner entry to data, a way of connectedness, neighborhood and enjoyable. Quite the opposite, opponents of media multitasking consider it might probably intervene with studying and reminiscence, as it may be difficult to focus on a number of sources of data absolutely and may result in elevated stress, as youth might really feel strain to maintain up with the fixed movement of data and actions (worry of lacking out or FOMO).

It’s important that all of us are conscious of the inside workings of the media, in addition to perceive why we could also be compelled to media multitask. This understanding will help in growing the abilities and methods essential to have interaction with the media in a balanced approach and have a sturdy understanding of the way it works.

Adults have been involved concerning the impact of media on children for a very long time. What’s completely different about how younger folks work together with media at this time versus the pre-internet and pre-web 2.0 eras?

As expertise continues its fast evolution, an important distinction between how youth work together with media prior to now and at this time is the sheer quantity of obtainable media. The enlargement of the web and development of social media platforms has offered entry to what looks like an infinite quantity of media content material, together with movies, music, video games, information, and extra.

The Media and Me: A Guide to Critical Media Literacy for Young People book cover
Cowl to The Media and Me: A Information to Vital Media Literacy for Younger Individuals.

Different variations I acknowledge are how youth create, share and eat media at this time. Prior to now, we have been restricted to conventional platforms to create and share, like sharing artwork in a gallery for visible artists and your music on the radio for musicians, whereas at this time, youth have a plethora of digital instruments at their disposal to design media like blogs, podcasts and video channels.

Pre-internet media consumption was thought-about a passive exercise, with folks largely consuming media via mediums like TV, radio and print. Right now, we see youth are more likely to actively hunt down and curate their media content material, utilizing digital functions, serps, social media, and different on-line platforms that help virtual (VR), mixed (MR) and augmented realities (AR).

Lastly, let’s do not forget that adults are all the time involved (and for good cause) and the way in which youth work together with the media at this time is and can proceed to be completely different than it was prior to now. That’s why books like The Media and Me are necessary for such a transformative time in media and expertise as we proceed our evolution into net 3.0. We hope that you simply uncover most of the grownup considerations are addressed within the e book in a approach that doesn’t discuss right down to youth.

You’re a part of one thing referred to as the Media Revolution Collective, which goals to present younger folks the abilities they should critically consider media. What are a few of the different grassroots efforts to teach children and the way do you’re employed with them?

Along with the crucial analysis and understanding, we hope to assist youth merely perceive the methods media can form their ideas, emotions and behaviors.

It’s troublesome to search out Vital Media Literacy training instruments for youth that aren’t tied to company {dollars}. Lots of the organizations dedicated to Vital Media Literacy efforts for youth that I’m most conversant in are related to this Collective via prior analysis tasks, partnerships, convention crossings and/or board appointments, and so on. Under is web site data on initiatives and helpful on-line sources with web site blurbs:

  • Project Censored educates college students and the general public concerning the significance of a really free press for democratic self-government. We expose and oppose information censorship and we promote impartial investigative journalism, media literacy and important pondering. Via our web site, weekly radio program, annual e book, and different packages, we offer this service to america, Canada, UK, and the world.
  • Mass Media Literacy is dedicated to making sure that folks have entry to crucial media literacy training. We work with college programs, libraries, neighborhood teams, and particularly academics, to ship coaching, curriculum, analysis and sources that promote the combination of crucial media literacy training into Okay-12 lecture rooms.
  • Center for Urban Excellence fosters resilience in system-involved youth via training, financial, social and inventive alternatives. We expose youth to experiences and alternatives that assist them to develop into anti-fragile. We offer a free digital media literacy information for highschool and Transition Age Youth [ages 16-24] different training educators.
  • Critical Media Project is a free media literacy net useful resource for educators and college students (ages 8-21) that enhances younger folks’s crucial pondering and empathy, and builds on their capacities to advocate for change round questions of identification.
  • The Society of Professional Journalists is the nation’s most broad-based journalism group, devoted to encouraging the free observe of journalism and stimulating excessive requirements of moral conduct.

Many people are extra attuned to overt racism and sexism in media than ever, however you focus on how these biases have develop into extra delicate as media have developed. Speak about this. What are some examples? What affect does this have?

Evidently media bias has taken on a extra delicate and insidious type as expertise and media proceed to advance. An instance of this may be seen in facial recognition expertise, the place algorithms have been discovered to own a better error price in figuring out people with darker pores and skin tones, perpetuating and amplifying pre-existing societal biases which have real-world implications, like wrongful arrests and improper surveillance of marginalized communities.

One other instance may be seen in internet marketing, the place algorithms have been discovered to indicate completely different advertisements to completely different teams primarily based on their searching historical past and previous interactions with the platform. I name what these companies are doing “digital casting,” as they categorize folks merely to promote to them. This digital filtering and limiting can result in disparities in alternative and entry to data.

What some might name “delicate bias,” many of us in our communities really feel each day as a result of the results of discriminatory practices and behaviors in society are haunting new expertise and making an attempt to position limits on folks. Via training and dialog, we will convey consciousness to algorithmic bias and push for a future society that’s simply and equitable for all.

Concern concerning the quantity of misinformation that’s so available on-line at this time is widespread. We are sometimes instructed that some type of censorship or infringement on free speech is important given the way in which media has developed. What do you say to this?

Misinformation can wreak havoc on society. Sadly, the ubiquity of the web and the velocity at which data may be shared by way of social media has made all of it too simple for misinformation to unfold, as we’ve seen with tragic outcomes throughout the Trump period and the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. However censorship or curbing free speech doesn’t clear up our points. As an alternative, the important thing lies in empowering people to guage and analyze the data they encounter and growing the abilities essential to establish and resist disinformation. To be able to start addressing this drawback, the main focus needs to be shifted to figuring out and addressing the basis causes of misinformation, which regularly stem from the underlying financial and political pursuits of those that propagate it.

We are able to obtain this by persevering with the battle for elevated transparency and accountability in media and fostering numerous and impartial media ecosystems that may present correct, moral and dependable data to the general public. Via these efforts, we will work towards making a extra knowledgeable and empowered society.

Speak about a number of literacies and the way we might help younger folks develop them.

In a media-rich society, a number of literacies confer with the assorted abilities, data and competencies that people want in an effort to navigate and make sense of the advanced and numerous media panorama. In chapter 5 of The Media and Me, we converse to a number of literacies and ask the reader to broaden the thought of “literacy” previous the normal kinds. This chapter dives into visible literacy (visible illustration like memes and movie), aural literacy (analyzing and deciphering the which means of sound), digital and algorithmic literacy (concentrate on digital media and large tech programming), in addition to trying into the way forward for metaverse literacy (expertise partaking with AR [augmented reality], MR [mixed reality] and VR [virtual reality]).

An necessary technique to assist youth develop a number of literacies is to equip them with the crucial pondering abilities and data wanted to successfully consider, analyze and act with media. This consists of instructing youth replicate on private media use, the media they select to have interaction with and analyze media messages and representations. Inside chapter 5, there are 4 call-out packing containers with actions to assist strengthen this talent.

One other approach to assist youth develop a number of literacies is to supply them with alternatives to have interaction the media and expertise actively. This may contain offering entry to a variety of media and expertise sources, and inspiring them to create, produce and share their very own media content material. Not solely will it assist youth develop abilities and competencies wanted to successfully use and create media, however it would additionally assist them to grasp the broader social, cultural and political contexts through which the media function.

This text has been calmly edited for readability.