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State Legislators, Media Commentators, AND Students All Agree—Give Us “Media Literacy”!

In California, where we are based, State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson just introduced a bill that would ensure students know “how to spot fake news and enables students, parents and educators to establish strategies ensuring that digital citizenship, internet safety, and media literacy become part of California's basic teaching requirements in public schools.”

As a former high school English teacher who still works with youth regularly, I know that by the time kids reach high school, they actually want and desire to have received a course on Media Literacy. Last year I wrote a post – “Social Media and High Schoolers: Will They Ever Learn?” Today my belief is an absolute YES because my findings are that they WANT to learn and will ultimately demand (or their parents will demand on their behalf) that they become media literate.

It’s undeniable, even for the most uninterested high schooler, that media use comes with both positive as well as negative impact. And even the most jaded of students will tell you this is important to learn in middle school, so they’re prepared and empowered to be ethical, competent and productive in an online setting once they reach high school. I haven’t encountered one student who will say otherwise.

No one knows better how destructive the online world can be better than high schoolers.

They, along with educators like me, see it almost every day in the forms of cyberbullying, sexting, and addiction. I’ve seen firsthand the depression, dejection and sadness on the face of students when dealing with a “digital incident.” It saddens me to no end knowing this is occurring all over the country (and world for that matter). It hurts knowing that the sadness students experience can be prevented if they have the knowledge before entering the crazy and intimidating high school digital setting.

On the other hand, like most competent adult digital media users, high schoolers know how beneficial and indispensable media is.

In a 2004 study that appeared in the American Behavioral Scientist, “Media Literacy—A National Priority for a Changing World,” Elizabeth Thoman and Tessa Jones wrote:

“The convergence of media and technology in a global culture is changing the way we learn about the world and challenging the very foundations of education. No longer is it enough to be able to read the printed word; children, youth, and adults need the ability to critically interpret the powerful images of a multimedia culture. Media literacy education provides a framework and pedagogy for the new literacy needed for living, working, and citizenship in the 21st century. Moreover, it paves the way to mastering the skills required for lifelong learning in a constantly changing world.”

Michelle Ciulla Lipkin, Executive Director of the Nat’l Association for Media Literacy Education, spoke with Brian Stelter of CNN about this very subject:

See “Is Trump Media Literate” | CNN Reliable Sources

I love that Stelter closes their conversation by saying, “We have to do more to invest in media literacy.”

And I couldn’t agree more.

We, young and old alike, are all citizens of this online world; therefore we must learn to communicate with one another truthfully, respectfully, ethically, and competently. The information kids are inundated with is mind blowing. If they don’t know how to absorb, evaluate, comprehend, and be critical of this information – that could be (and is) trouble.

Luckily there are programs out there specifically geared to teach students the vital life skills they need to be truly “digitally literate”: Digital Citizenship, Information Literacy, and Media Literacy (For Positive Participation). That’s why I’m all in on Cyber Civics--the turnkey, comprehensive program for middle schools that addresses these topics. It’s now being taught in 26 states (and internationally)—and we’re working hard to reach 24 more!

When state legislators, media commentators AND kids all agree that they need to learn media literacy, shouldn’t we heed their call? I hope you’ll reach out to me to find out how we can make this happen. You can reach me at

Peter joins the Cyber Civics team with experience in both Education as well as Marketing. He received a degree in Communication from the University of Portland with an emphasis in Media and Society. Peter has always had a passion for teaching and working with kids. In 2011 he made the switch from the business sector and has been an Educator at Aliso Niguel High School for the past 5 years. He’s also the Head Coach of both the Boys and Girls Tennis Programs. He resides in San Clemente, CA with his wife and young daughter and sees Cyber Civics as “the perfect fit” for his passions and skill sets.

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