What is Media Literacy?

Think of all the times you consume media per day. Unless you are doing your own Eat, Pray, Love sort of thing, there may be days when you spend upwards of nine and a half hours consuming media.

The average American spends roughly 5 hours per day solely watching television.

A quick mental checklist of every moment you consume media can get overwhelming.

From the first time you scroll through your social media accounts to the morning news you watch while drinking coffee; this is just the beginning of your overall daily media intake.

You listen to music or a podcast on the way to work.

At your desk, you read email after email.

You scroll your thumb over your phone to check texts and social media accounts. Next, you scan through a few blog posts or articles.

At home, you watch a few episodes of TV before bed.

Some don’t step away from media the entire day let alone take the time to actually create anything. Even creatives struggle with the balance of consumption versus creation.

We live in world where it is nearly impossible to get away from the inundation of information. From our individual mental and physical health to how we interact with each other in society as a whole, there can be extreme negative consequences. Understanding how to take in these messages is crucial.

The good news is, we can work to create more literate digital citizens. Each of us can take control over our own consumption. In turn, we can produce responsibly.

So, what is Media Literacy?

Media literacy can be defined as the ability to access, analyze, evaluate and create media in a variety of forms.

In today’s 21st century media culture, we are able to connect, share, and learn in unprecedented ways.

Can we really separate ourselves from the media?

Maybe not. But we can better understand it. We can learn to analyze the forces at play. Media is everywhere. It would be impossible to go back to a time before it was such a large component of our lives. However, we can no longer burry our heads in the sand and pretend to ignore the complications.

Literacy, or proficiency, is of the utmost importance.

Media literate youth/teens will become proactive adults and creators. Being able to think for oneself can lead to a culture of active digital citizens.

What can a digital citizen do?

  1. Recognize bias, spin, lies, and intentional misinformation in the news
  2. Realize that media may want us to believe or do something
  3. Understand that many times media companies can make a lot of money by getting us to consume
  4. Communicate whose story is really being told
  5. Understand the media’s impact on individuals and culture
  6. Evaluate parts of a story for what is missing
  7. Advocate for justice in the media
  8. Become more conscious and responsible creators

What can be done?

When used correctly media can be our greatest connector, our discussion leader, and our change maker. It can seem overwhelming at first. There is so much to be done. Right?

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Like a tectonic plate, we just need a little interaction with each other to create a potentially large shift.

Here are things you can do right now,

  1. Educate yourself and those around you.
  2. Make a list of all every piece of media you consume per day.
  3. See if you can adjust and become a more conscious consumer.
  4. Push for media literacy education in our schools.
  5. Get out there are create!

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