What is Media Literacy

Media Literacy is a topic that comes up often now a days. Particularly because of the **realization of things like fake news, fake videos, and altered documents that spread like wildfire on the internet. I say realization because, believe it or not, fake news is not a new thing or concept. Something like fake news has been used to sway public opinion for decades. For example: Documents like tabloids used fake news in the form of rumors to sell papers and, of course, spread rumors about people.

But what about the fake news we see today? Today’s false information is spread throughout the internet. The internet is somewhat of an enigma to people. The masses seem to believe anything they read on the internet, good and bad. This has given rise to the need for Media Literacy. But, what is it? I personally like to think of Media Literacy as a big hat that encompasses 6 other topics (or subjects) that need to be learned and mastered. The ultimate goal of media literacy is to create a proper digital citizen. A digital citizen is, simply, a person on the internet. To do this, again, we have to focus on media literacy’s 6 underlying topics. These are:

Media Balance & Well Being

This one has to do with how much we balance our media and taking a moment to recognize the state of our mental health. Balancing media can be difficult a it has become a main part of our lives in the 21st century. But there are still real world activities we can partake in to take breaks from media. Things like riding a bike, skateboarding, basketball, handball, baseball, bowling, reading a book, taking a walk, and the list can really go on forever. It’s important to take a break and recognize when media is affecting us and our loved ones in a negative manner.

Privacy & Security

This one is a fairly easy topic. Privacy and security deals with our online accounts, digital assets, devices, and their security. How secure are we online? Sure, many of us feel like we do not need to worry. I mean, many of us are small fries and hackers only go after the big bad corporate guys right? Wrong. Take me for instance. I am but a small time content creator with at most 30 followers on YouTube. There are attempted hacking on my website over 30 times a month and over 50 blocked IP addresses as a result of this. No one is too big or too small because in the greater aspect of things hackers want to create an interconnected network of infected accounts and computers. So this topic deals with securing yourself online. what should passwords look like? What your internet settings should look like? There’s an infinite number of ways to secure yourself online.

Digital Footprint & Identity

So, by this point, you should be realizing that each topic is intertwined within one another. Your digital footprint and identity deals with what tracks you leave behind as you search the internet. Everyone does this. This is how companies like Google & Amazon now how to sell products to us. They trace our footprints and learn our identities so that they can sell our information to advertisers. But, likewise, other people can track our footprint and identity as well. This is why we have to focus on our privacy and security.

Relationships & Communicating

This topic deals strictly with our relationships online and how we communicate with them. Relationships are anything from a partner, to a friend, coworker, family, etc. We always need to be mindful of who limit ourselves to talk to online. The reason I say this is because new people may not be who they say they are.

Cyber Bullying & Hate Speech

This topic interlocks with topics 1 through 4. First we need to understand that cyber bullying and hate speech is wrong. Understanding this we must understand how to not fall victim to this online and to check on others in case they are victims of this online.

News & Media Literacy

Finally, the big bad. This topic deals in how to read the news, breakdown the information we are seeing/reading, and forming our **own opinion on the matter. There are three types of news: News, Analysis, & Opinion. The first is meant to be strictly factual, the second is meant to be a breakdown of events, and the third is meant to solely be an opinion. The issue? I todays time, opinion has infected the other two types of news. The purpose of this is to keep people divided. So, this topic seeks to teach people how to absorb information from proper news stations rather than seeking news from tabloid-esque sources.

Mastering all these topics old allow one a higher sense of media literacy and is, honestly, an important subject we need to focus on.

Books About Media Literacy

For Parents & Educators:

Digital Citizenship in a Datafied Society : https://bookshop.org/a/18645/9781509527168

For Educators:

Digital Citizenship in Schools: Nine Elements All Students Should Know : https://bookshop.org/a/18645/9781564843647

The Digital Citizenship Handbook for School Leaders: Fostering Positive Interactions Online : https://bookshop.org/a/18645/9781564847829