According to the Media Literacy Project, media literacy is the ability to access, analyze, evaluate and create media. We become media literate when we are able to understand the messages directed at us by all media outlets, television, radio, Internet, newspapers, billboards, video games, music, and all other forms of mass communication.
Now, more than ever, we are faced, on a daily basis, with an avalanche of media; negativity, conflicting messages and “alternative facts”.
As much as we may want to, we cannot shelter our kids completely from the information that is out there, and the emotional content that it comes charged with. As individuals and families, we have to make media, and the social/political context, part of our conversation.
- Re-frame the current social/political context as an opportunity.
- Promote casual conversations about what’s been said on the news and what’s been shared on the net.
- Engage with media as a family, read and watch the news together and openly discuss what your heard, objectively (what was said?) and subjectively (how did it made you feel?)
- Use the opportunity to practice listening skills, tolerance of different ideas and points of view and empathy.
- Use the opportunity to develop critical thinking (what are the different points of view of the speakers? What are the facts? What are the basis for those facts?) and independent thinking (what are my own conclusions? We don’t have to think or believe the same thing, but we going to respect each other).
As parents and educators, we monitor internet access, block, lock and remove devices if/when necessary. But non of those actions take our kids further into understanding media. All of those action will make technology the enemy and media a taboo.
We cannot fight ignorance with ignorance. We have to give our kids credit. We have to show them they can be perceptive, and assertive. They want to use and advance technology for good. They want to know more about human nature and the world we live in. They want to make it better. Let’s show them it’s possible.
- School Library Journal Upcoming Webcast Series: “Information Literacy in the Age of Fake News”
- Media Literacy Project