Articles

Is Teaching Media Literacy Important?

Posted on March 6, 2013

The public Internet now houses over 630 million sites, a number that is growing each month. And each of those sites can have thousands or millions of individual pages (CNN.com, for example, has over 47 million pages indexed on Google, and adds thousands each day).

Free access to all that information is, on the whole, a very good thing for society. More people can stay informed, more voices can reach an audience. Writers aren't constrained by column inches or page counts or the cost of ink, meaning stories can be reported with greater depth, with more multimedia or with previously unimaginable interactivity.

But all that flowing information can also present problems when people are unequipped with the tools and skills necessary to make sense of it.

If you can't make a determination of truth about the content in your Twitter and Facebook feed, or if you can't figure out which sources are trustworthy in a set of Google search results, then all that information is doing you a disservice. As our technology evolves, and our streams become even more packed with tweets, articles, videos, pictures and posts, the concept of media literacy evolves with it.

To be a functioning member of today's digital society, one must not only be able to use social networking and online publishing tools, but must also be able to think critically about all forms of media. Social media allows the instant amplification of both fact and fiction, and without a strong foundation in media literacy, it can be difficult to determine which sources to trust.

According to a recent Pew study, 83% of teachers feel that the amount of available information is overwhelming to students, and 60% think that finding credible sources among that flood is difficult. That's why it isn't surprising that over 90% of teachers surveyed agreed that some form of media literacy education should be included in every school's curriculum.