Media Literacy Now Provides Expert Panel Testimony on Urgent Need to Integrate Media Literacy Skills into K – 12 Education

Public health experts, educators speak out in state Education Committee hearing for keeping curriculum inline with dramatically increased youth media use and nationwide educational movement

For Immediate Release

Contact: Tamara Sobel, Media Literacy Now

617.731.7750 voice; tsobel@medialiteracynow.org

 

July 9, 2019 The State Legislature’s Joint Education Committee heard from impassioned educators, public health experts, and fellow legislators on why integrating more media literacy education is so important and urgent in 2019.

The average young person is interacting with their devices and the media for nearly their entire waking day; nearly half of teens say they are ‘addicted’ to their phones. For some young people, this will interfere with their sleep, and potentially their performance at school. For some it will increase their likelihood of having depression, anxiety or eating disorders, or exacerbate those conditions when they already exist. And while Massachusetts has already taken measures to fortify students’ education in ‘news media literacy’ in response to the epidemic of false or “fake” news and misinformation campaigns, those educational directives are limited to the civics/social studies topics and classrooms.

“Media Literacy education teaches students to evaluate all media content and media use which engulfs them today,” says Tamara Sobel, J.D., Massachusetts Advocacy Director for Media Literacy Now. “It is based on easy to learn, critical thinking principles, where students analyze the intent, the source, the properties, and the consequences of any and all media use. It helps them understand how media affects them, negatively or positively. It provides safeguards for safe and responsible online experiences, and prompts discussion of emerging ethical issues associated with new AI and VR based technologies. Ideally it interfaces with all subject areas, and provides students with lifelong skills they will need for learning, careers, and physical and emotional well being.”

The two bills pertaining to Media Literacy education are H.561 and S.259. The House bill, introduced by State Rep. Dave Rogers, is similar to measures recently passed in 7 states and being considered by many more. It directs the Department of Elementary & Secondary Education to evaluate where the gaps in and opportunities for media literacy education are across the curriculum, and provide resources for educators to integrate ML education for their students.

The Senate bill, introduced by State Senator Cynthia Creem, also supports Media Literacy education, but envisions implementing it through the Safe Schools law passed in 2014 to address foundational safety and behavioral issues that support a healthy learning environment.

Panelists testifying: David Bickham, Ph.D., Boston Children’s Hospital Center for Media & Child Health, Andrew Zucker, Ed.D, educator, author and curriculum developer; Wendy Rivenburgh, M.A, Senior Associate at EDC, a global provider of education curriculum to address emerging educational areas, Juma Inniss, Founder, Director, Media Literacy educator at The Message, and Tamara Sobel, J.D, Massachusetts Advocacy Director at Media Literacy Now.