The Need for Media Literacy Education
By Dr. Eman Mohammed Fathi
As a result of the breakthroughs in technology and communication, the potential roles of these means escalating in every single life aspect such as economy, industry, healthcare and definitely in education. Using technology and means of communication becomes inevitable, especially after corona pandemic.
This technology helps a lot in overcoming many obstacles in our daily life however authenticity and reliability have become main challenges facing digital media users . This issues many demerits and defects especially among youth.
Although social media are interactive technologies and digital channels that facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas, interests, and other forms of expression through virtual networks. One of the problematic of media is the excessive use of network and this in turn lead youth to be overly dependent on social media to get any information. Adolescents may have negative self evaluation about their characters.
They may mistrust their abilities when they fail in doing any task while following other trend bloggers achieve wealth and fame without efforts or with false achievements . Following media without awareness lead teens to live away from their real world around them. They may be unsatisfied with their close community and in the long run they lose the desire to be involved in reality. Therefore, introducing ways of rational use of media has become a must .
It is undeniable that media represents hidden curriculum so it can be said that it is parallel school. This in turn encourages the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to define media and information literacy as ” Media and information literacy empowers people to think critically about information and use of digital tools.
It helps people make informed choices about how they participate in peace building, equality, freedom of expression, dialogue, access to information, and sustainable development. Hence, many educational institutions introduce innovative learning system focusing on digital media literacy to overcome the shortcomings of inadequate use of digital media.
Education cannot be separated away from culture and society so educational institutions should be active part in raising the knowledge of young people how to use digital media appropriately. As long as media content is not created by well-known professionals but by public and the content is broadcast without any kind of evaluation or verification.
The concept of digital media literacy does not include the benefits and harms of media consumption but it goes further to raise the awareness of many skills . These skills should be priority in educating young people especially university students . Based on the previous, there is a clear concern for better understanding what media youth use and what are the needed skills they should embrace to avoid many problems.
In most school systems students are taught basic digital literacy competence, such as how to conduct an online search but they have limited knowledge about the hidden messages presented through the online sites and platforms . The main target of media education is to create a well educated person who can differentiate between fake flow of online materials or unfiltered information and true ones.
So to become media literate is to have the ability to critically understand the nature, techniques and impacts of media messages and productions. To cultivate media literacy persons who are able to deal with the media in an intelligent and responsible way. Media literate person has the ability to differentiate between disinformation which means sharing of information known to be false and misleading and misinformation which means the information is not verified and mostly is untrue. .
It should be noted that implementing media literacy at schools depends on boosting critical thinking using media texts to integrate media education in special disciplines. Students should demonstrate their competence towards the impact of online media on individual’s life and on the society as a whole. They should have analytical skills to analyze diverse messages delivered by creators who have various backgrounds and targets.
They should master critical standard to evaluate and select various media products. School should raise the awareness of the media ethics and encourage teens to be responsible individuals whether as media producer or media consumers. They should acquire the ability to assess the credibility of information received as well as the credibility of the information source.
Fostering information and media literacy should be fundamental segment in the educational system so teachers must be ready for their responsibility and innovative mission. To face this challenge, teacher must have not only skills in the use of information technologies but also the skills of critical media culture formation among students.
They should recognize the complex set of skills needed to identify critical media literate student. It should be confirmed that the collaboration between teachers, school system and parents is considered to be an anchor which can help students to get this analytical, reflective understanding of online media including its form, content and ideology.
Parents and society must realize that prohibiting youth to use online media cannot is illogical as students are part of this online culture. The only logical solution is to empower them with knowledge and encourage them to be critical, and literate in all online media forms in order to digest harmful media message. Therefore, media literacy education is now an obligation and career skills. These skills can be taught separately or integrated in school books. Educators should understand how users react to information and how they produce these online materials.
Dr. Eman Mohammed Fathi is English instructor at AL -Salam Higher institute for Engineering and Technology
Teaching and evaluating Business Management course and Islamic Civilization course for Engineering students .
English teacher (Ministry of Education) .
Member of the committee Nile TESOL English for Specific Purposes Special Interest Group ESP SIG.
Preparing the materials of ” Mohaky Application ” for professional license in K.S.A