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What is Media Literacy?

In today's world, Media has become a way of life. The Media informs us, entertains us, tells us what to shop for and how to shop, and connects us to the world. Through technology, the media is enmeshed in our daily living. Well, if something is as important or as huge as this, why not get a better understanding of it?

Media Literacy enables one to "put on their thinking caps" and analyze the content. Just as with anything involving "literacy", Media literacy incorporates reading and writing to access, decode, decipher, and communicate these messages that entertain, inform, and sell to us. Some of these outlets may include: film, advertisements, videos, the web, or essentially wherever there is media. Some very important questions can be derived from this analysis such as: Who is the target audience, and why? Who will benefit monetarily, and why? And how do these questions influence the message or intent.

In many cases today, we are inundated with growing technology. Our children are introduced to technology as infants. A child can pick up a cell phone and operate the features better than an adult, program the television, or engage in an interactive game on the computer without being able to read. Instead of picking up the newspaper to catch up on yesterday's news, we can flip open our phones and get Real Time news by pushing a button or touching a screen. Instead of board games, there are interactive television and computer games. Children don't know the concept of a rotary phone or what life was like in the prehistoric ages, BCP (before cell phones). We are exposed to constant images through technology daily, oftentimes without a filter. That is why it is so important for teachers and students alike to be media literate.

If a child is introduced to technology before they can speak or have watched television since birth, their minds have already been exposed to media and influenced by media. Media Education is the second part of Media Literacy. After the access, analysis, and the communication then there is the part of learning what is behind the scenes. Media Education as with education is a process that is constantly evolving and developing. Although, media has been around for ages, our current technology has not and many administrators and teachers have just begun to hear about media literacy and realize its importance. Now the push for Media Literacy in curriculums has become evident.

A new phenomenon is in the making! Understanding the Why's, the How's, the Who's and the What's have always been society's push for knowledge. With Media Education, it won't just be about knowing what is on the screen but knowing what's behind the screen and all that was involved in making the screen, the screen.