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What is media literacy?

Media literacy is the practice of critically evaluating, creating, and or using media. To be media literate, one must be aware of the influence media has on them and apply this knowledge by taking an active stance towards consuming and creating media.

About media literacy:

What is Media Literacy Education? Media Literacy is defined as the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and produce communication in a variety of forms.

So does media literacy mean just TV and music, or does it include the internet and social media? Yes, absolutely. It applies to social media and user-generated content. When students log on to send messages or post photos and videos, they are becoming producers of media, not just consumers.  By actively participating online, they are essentially joining a global conversation. Critical thinking skills must be applied to both the messages they are  sending out to the world  as well as those they receive back . An understanding of the Key Questions for Producers and Consumers will enable them to make wise choices and engage more fully as online citizens.

Does media literacy include online safety? Yes, media literacy is an umbrella term for teaching children the skills to be active and safe participants with media of all types.  The critical thinking skills required to become media literate can be applied to any message from any medium. In other words, it does not make a difference if the message comes from social media, television, websites,  videogames, radio, print or cell phone, the same skills are needed to interpret and make wise choices about what is seen and heard. Online safety is of particular concern which is why we advocate for media literacy education for all school children K-12.

Is Digital Citizenship the same as Media Literacy? The term Digital Citizenship is often used interchangeably with media literacy, and indeed, media literacy skills are necessary for being a responsible online citizen.  Media Literacy, however, is larger than the internet — it involves a new way to see and interpret the world through all forms of media.  The critical thinking skills of media literacy are applicable to all aspects of life, and media literacy is an established academic discipline internationally, with a pedagogy and structure necessary for teaching and transferring knowledge and skills.

Is there a difference between media literacy and media education? Yes. Media literacy refers to a set of skills whereas media education involves the process through which one learns these skills. There is no limit to how “media literate” one can become!

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