What Is Media Literacy?

media_literacyWe live in an ever-increasing media saturated world. It is everywhere we go and everywhere we turn. We watch movies and television on cell phones, in the back of car seats, in subway stations, and in our homes. We listen to the radio on the internet, in the doctor’s office and on smaller and smaller portable electronic devices like MP3 players and web-capable cell phones. We are exposed to advertising on the sides of buildings and trash cans; in newspapers, in television commercials and movies; and on trucks, taxis, buses and streetcars. While the media should be enjoyed, it is also important to understand the ways in which it influences us and our children. Media Literacy is the ability to analyze, access, evaluate and communicate all forms of media.

Media Literacy also emphasizes the following elements (Silverblatt, 2001):

  • critical thinking skills that allows audiences to develop independent judgments about media content;
  • an understanding of the process of mass communication;
  • an awareness of the impact of media on the individual and society;
  • the development of strategies with which to discuss and analyze media messages;
  • an awareness of media content as a “text” that provides insight into our contemporary culture and ourselves;
  • the development of a greater enjoyment, understanding, and appreciation of media content; and
  • in the case of media developers, the ability to create effective and responsible media messages.

Source: Silverblatt, A (2001) Media Literacy: Keys to Interpreting Media Messages. Westport, CT: Praeger