North Texas Daily

Media literacy should be required for all college students, regardless of major

Media literacy should be required for all college students, regardless of major

Media literacy should be required for all college students, regardless of major
September 04
12:17 2020

In a 2018 study by the US Department of Education, the study showed that 16 percent, or 31.8 million Americans, did not have “sufficient comfort or competence with technology to use a computer.” In the ever-changing technical landscape we live in, it’s imperative that media literacy be a required course in schools and especially in college regardless of your major or career field. We all live in a digital world so there should be no reason why we shouldn’t be taught how to civilly engage within it.

Media literacy, according to the National Association of Media Literacy Education, is defined as the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, create and act using all forms of communication. The idea behind media literacy is to empower people to be critical thinkers and makers, effective communicators and active citizens. And it all boils down to being able to have a functional understanding of how to navigate the internet and social media, in particular.

With how digital the world we live in is, media literacy courses should be the subject du jour rather than basic classes that focus on the negative effects of social media. If more people could look with a critical eye that didn’t reflect their politics but instead a value for truth, you wouldn’t need to worry about fake news because it would lose value. This is why it’s critical college students should be taught media literacy, because only about 20 percent of students aged 16-24 are digitally literate, according to that same 2018 Department of Education study.

With the rise of fake news, a 20 percent digital literacy rate for college-aged students is highly disturbing. But it is very comforting to know that at least 14 states have taken strong legislative action for the introduction of media literacy in grade school. The implementation of these media literacy courses is key for kids to be able to actually gain the tools to safely and deliberately navigate social media.

For many college students, going to college is the first time they’ve ever been away from home, and that lack of experience in exploring different world views and perspectives can seep into how they use their social media. Some students don’t know how to discern good from bad on the internet, or the difference between fake news and satire. Being able to think critically of the media you consume on a daily basis is important in stopping the dissemination and spread of disinformation, especially since certain foreign countries, such as Russia, are actively doing that as we speak.

Media literacy is not anti-media, in fact, it’s pro-media. It’s about being able to freely interact with digital media as a good, responsible human-being. The sooner we start down the path of media literacy for college students, the safer and healthier social media use can be for everyone.

Featured Illustration by Miranda Thomas

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North Texas Daily

North Texas Daily

The North Texas Daily is the official student newspaper of the University of North Texas, proudly serving UNT and the Denton community since 1916.

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