Today's media landscape has dramatically changed over the last decade and our children are now living in a world of 24/7 media.
Results of a national survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed (2010) that
young people devote more than 7.5 hours each day with entertainment media - an increase of 1 hour and 17 minutes since 2004. The survey also found that:
"...because they spend so much of that time 'media multitasking' (using more than one medium at a time), they actually manage to pack a total of 10 hours and 45 minutes worth of media content into those 7..."Schools and individual teachers are working to bring media literacy to students, but media literacy is not broadly taught in our public schools and media literacy is rarely part of the public debate on education.
A bill in the Massachusetts State Legislature (S.213) proposes to change that. S.213 would bring media literacy education to all Massachusetts K-12 public school classrooms. Media literacy education teaches students to apply critical thinking to messaging and to use media to create their own messages. It's a key skill that's vital to the health and well-being of all children, as well as to their participation in the civic and economic life of our democracy.
Used well, media can entertain and inform our children in positive ways. However, since most children are not taught to use media thoughtfully, they are not able to think critically about media's content. Research shows that media literacy education has been effective in reducing risky or antisocial behaviors among children and youth of all ages and for all topics of focus, such as tobacco use, violence, and sex.
I have been working with Media Literacy Now, a 501(c)4 non-profit organization focusing on grassroots and legislative media literacy activity for K-12 schools each state. Media Literacy Now has formed a coalition in support of S.213. We are planning the public testimony to present to the Joint Committee on Education's public hearing on Thursday, October 31, 2013. If you are interested in being in touch with parents, teachers, and others working for media literacy education in our schools, visit the Media Literacy Now website, where you can learn more about media literacy and sign up to join their mailing list.