Media Literacy Week just ended a little over a week ago. It could not have come at a more opportune time for our sixth- and seventh-graders to set up their Twitter accounts and participate in the KQED Do Now challenge called “How Does Social Media Influence Our Political Values.”
As part of the challenge, the students watched the video called “MediaOcracy” from the WeTheVoters, and they tweeted their responses to the guiding questions below with the hashtag #DoNowViews.
- Does social media help or inhibit our ability to develop our own political values?
- Are your social media networks actually shrinking your worldview?
- What do you do now, or what can you start doing to make sure you are seeing all sides of an issue while on social media?
MediaOcracy from We the Voters on Vimeo.
This eye-opening video made the students stop and think a good deal about how viewers could be so easily influenced through algorithms that deliver content from a single point of view, and moreover, how it often leads to a one-sided look at information. It unnerved them a little when they found out that “someone” was aggregating their search results based on likes. It also surprised many that 60% of Americans use social media to get their news.
One important takeaway recommended in the video was to watch or listen to another media network that you “violently” oppose to avoid being caught up in a social media stream that feeds only what one wants to hear. With so many modern media outlets openly biased toward the right or left, it was important for these young minds to see the value in comparing information.
The media literacy program at our school has been in place for over 16 years, and it starts with the first graders. We’re fortunate, too, that our students are permitted to use social media for learning; it allows us to update our program to include new media literacy skills as part of the learning process. In an age of media bombardment, learners must be permitted to practice skills not only for today’s world, but also for their future.
The New Media Literacies video below drives this point home. In order for learners to be fully engaged with today's participatory culture, they need the social skills and cultural competencies to do it. It, therefore, must be integrated into the learning environment.
We witnessed first hand just how much it means for students to use their voices to express opinions in a world of shared content. Media is not just questioning the traditional types, such as newspapers, magazines, or websites. It’s participatory. They felt empowered to share their ideas with others and to follow what others had to say. Students need access to new media as it evolves in real time, their time, in order to be discerning learners.