Is Media Literacy a Lost Art in 2017?

Although the amount of media that students consume each day continues to climb (teens spend about nine hours per day, while tweens hit about six hours), their media literacy skills are shockingly absent. In November 2016, Stanford released a report that called students’ inability to assess information “dismaying.” Students in the report could not tell sponsored ads from news articles, pick out real news from fake news, or detect bias. They accepted photographs as fact without verification. In short, students showed severely lacking media literacy skills, despite the amount of media they consumed. Time spent on media does not teach media literacy. In this case, practice does not make perfect.

Case Study: Educators Can Be a Solution

The researchers of the study want to help educators increase media literacy instruction in curriculum. For them, digital literacy is intrinsically linked to informed citizenship—making the results of their research a perceived threat to democracy as a whole.

Is media literacy a lost art in 2017? Perhaps, but it needs a serious revival from educators.

One educator dedicated to improving media literacy in her district is Tamera Crews, an elementary school teacher at Maury County Public Schools in Tennessee. Tamera and her team share a mission: to introduce students to the critical thinking and reasoning skills required in their complex media landscape.

“Our primary goal is to teach kids to think for themselves and think critically about any topic they might encounter,” said Crews. “And to do that successfully, we need to give them the right tools as well as the freedom and the time to talk out concepts and come to their own conclusions.”

Educators at Maury County Public Schools are working to tackle bad research and teach students how to research well with appropriate and reputable sources. They are also developing standards for students, including infusing core subject lessons with media literacy.

Maury County Public Schools also uses a new media literacy program to expose students to current events and topics, and to connect the news to their academic subjects. Free trials are available here.

Laura Healy

Laura Healy is Library Media Specialist in Randolph Township, NJ. She previously served as an Educational Consultant with myON where she worked with educators both regionally and internationally.  She was one of six national winners for the 2011 Follett Challenge while teaching in Wayne, NJ. She can be reached via email.