We live in a world where information is ruling our lives. It has become impossible to keep ourselves away from the abundance of information that surrounds us. Our minds become muddled and we lose the ability to think critically when we are exposed to a lot of information. Likewise, when a plethora of information is readily available before today’s students, it becomes hard for them to become unbiased individuals and develop an objective mindset. This article helps you understand why media literacy is important today and what measures can be taken to teach media literacy to students.
What is Media Literacy?
We should first examine what media literacy is, in order to gain a deeper understanding of its importance. Media literacy is the knowledge or ability to understand, assess and screen information to receive information that is accurate and relevant to us. It enables us to objectively analyze information and come to a conclusion. Media literacy assists us in critically analysing information and determining the accuracy of the information.
Why Media Literacy is Essential?
Develop Critical Thinking Skills
Critical thinking is a skill every individual need to acquire in order to thrive in the world we live in. Critical thinking skills enable students to get rid of the biases that exist in their minds because of the socio-political influences of the society we live in. Since we encounter a lot of information, it becomes hard for students to filter out accurate, reliable and relevant information. Hence, the students ought to master this skill to rule out prejudiced information. This would help them in widening their knowledge and understanding and also their perceptions of a variety of issues. Moreover, with the help of this skill, they will be empowered to take in the data in a better way and use the media in a productive and responsible way.
Combats Negative Media Influence
The media has the potential to negatively influence students, which can cause a variety of problems. Students who are media literate will be able to assess their own needs and take appropriate action. They would be able to reduce the impact of the media on how they make decisions. Advertisers frequently utilize media to persuade consumers to make unnecessary purchases, and students are particularly susceptible to this. In situations like these, the importance of media literacy comes into the picture as it empowers students to make informed decisions regarding their life choices.
Eliminate Biases and Prejudices
There is a good chance that a student's prejudices and stereotypes might skew how they interpret certain pieces of information. As a result of this, they tend to have a more limited perspective of the world and draw more conventional judgments as a result. Thus, it is crucial that students understand how important it is to overcome preconceptions and prejudices. Students can achieve this with the aid of media literacy. They will develop a broader perspective and be able to analyze and judge data in the light of wisdom and knowledge. Moreover, media literacy will also enable students to develop an inclusive mindset and accept the differences that exist in society.
How to Analyze Information
Media literacy helps students to analyze the accuracy of a piece of information. Teachers can help students analyze whether the information is supported by relevant arguments and proofs. They can direct students to read about the data from different sources and try to find the differences and similarities in each resource and then come to a conclusion. This helps them to identify the accuracy of a news or a piece of information.
Because of media saturation, it would be difficult for the students to find a reliable source. Since the internet is an open space and anyone can share any amount of information on the internet, it is easier for the students to get carried away by fake news or information. Hence, in order to analyze the reliability of the online sources, equip your students to keep in mind steps the following steps:
- Check the credibility of the authors, sources, and references.
- Check whether the author has the expertise to write about that particular information.
- Check whether the online source has an underlying agenda to fulfil with the help of its readers.
- Check whether the source has an inclination toward any particular ideology that hinders them from being objective.
The authors who share the information in a media resource ought to possess some integrity. Teachers can assist students to assess the integrity of their sources from where they are consuming the information. This method would help students to reach a reliable source of information.
Activities to Teach Media Literacy in a Classroom
Teachers can organize various activities to help students to become media literate. Two of the methods are given below.
Analyze and Find
Teachers can give a specific topic for students to do the analysis. They can ask students to read about the topic from different resources and ask them about the knowledge they have gained from multiple sources. Teachers can allow students to present before the class the factors that lead them to the conclusion and what made them rely on a particular source. In this way, students will be able to develop their critical thinking skills, moreover, they will get a chance to voice their opinions. Teachers can also give suggestions and feedback on how to improve their analytical skills and the factors that they need to take into account while trusting a piece of information.
Teachers can take up current topics for conducting debates. This encourages them to refer to different sources to seek information. In addition, students will be inspired to analyze a situation from different perspectives and hence, they read different views about the topic from different resources. They will also be able to exhibit their viewpoints and scrutinize them when they encounter different counterpoints in the classroom.
Suggested Read - Classroom Debates for Student Engagement
In a world where media is dominating our lives, it is essential to equip students for the future by introducing them to media literacy. This help to build knowledgeable and informed individuals who are capable of identifying relevant information from the pool of irrelevant information. In this way, teachers will be able to build a generation who are future-ready.