The Need for Media Literacy in School Libraries

In today's digital age, media literacy is a crucial skill that every student should possess.

Media literacy education empowers students to navigate the digital age and weed out misinformation.

The internet is an incredible resource for broadening your horizons, learning new things, and keeping up with the latest news. The one shortcoming is that anyone can say anything at any time. There’s no need to state biases, cite sources, or explain how a piece of information is factual. This means that media literacy is a more important skill than ever, and people are starting to push to have it taught in schools. 

Is Media Literacy Dying?

Many school-aged children struggle to identify potential misinformation, skewed facts, and the like. Studies showed that a staggering 96 percent of high school students seemingly didn’t feel that major fossil fuel companies posting studies on climate change presented a conflict of interest.

As useful as the internet is, kids and adults alike are inundated with information and are encouraged to take it all at face value, with no critical thinking required. Simply put, things aren’t looking too great for media literacy right now, but the fact that New Jersey has become the first state to require K–12 media literacy courses is certainly a step in the right direction.


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New Jersey’s Trailblazing Bipartisan Legislation Establishing K–12 Information Literacy Education

In January 2023, Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey established legislation requiring K–12 instruction on information literacy under the implementation of the New Jersey Student Learning Standards. The bipartisan legislation focuses on equipping students with the skills to evaluate information accurately. Information literacy includes digital, visual, media, textual, and technological literacy. As a result, each school district will incorporate instruction on information literacy in an appropriate place in the curriculum. 

“The New Jersey Association of School Librarians (NJASL) applauds Governor Murphy and the Legislature for bringing to light the need for Information Literacy in education,” said Ewa Dziedzic-Elliott, NJASL President.

“Adding Information Literacy to the current NJ Student Learning Standards gives strength to the need for the instruction and implementation of Information Literacy. As stated in [the bill] Information Literacy ‘means a set of skills that enables an individual to recognize when information is needed and to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information. Information literacy includes, but is not limited to, digital, visual, media, textual, and technological literacy.’ Passing the bill, and incorporating it into New Jersey law, affirms the role school librarians play in our schools and validates their strong presence in the fabric of the New Jersey education system. New Jersey students will be the beneficiaries of this important standard ensuring their equitable access to how to navigate and evaluate the masses of information they face every day.”


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How to Learn and Encourage Media Literacy

If you’re a parent of young children, we encourage you to refine your own media literacy skills and pass those skills along to your little ones. Though we hope more schools will follow in New Jersey’s footsteps, it’s still important that you reinforce those skills at home.

If your child is an active consumer of the latest news regarding world events, be sure to take time to sit down and talk with them regularly. Discuss the information each of you has found, note where it came from, and talk over any potential biases that may be present. By encouraging yourself and your children to think critically in this way, you allow the entire family to live a well-rounded, well-informed life.

In our digital age, it's crucial to equip ourselves and our children with the tools necessary to navigate the deluge of information and misinformation that floods our devices daily. Media literacy is about identifying falsehoods and understanding the broader context of how and why information is presented.

The first step is to cultivate a habit of questioning. Whenever you or your children encounter new information, ask critical questions: Who is the author? What is their purpose? Are there any signs of bias? Is the information supported by credible sources? This practice encourages a deeper engagement with content, moving beyond passive consumption to active analysis.


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Diversifying your media diet is another practical step. Just as a balanced diet is essential for physical health, exposure to a variety of news sources can enhance your ability to discern the quality of information. Encourage your family to explore different perspectives, especially on contentious issues. This not only aids in developing a well-rounded understanding but also in recognizing bias and identifying where consensus exists among diverse viewpoints.

Make use of the resources available in your community and online. Many libraries and educational institutions offer workshops and materials on media literacy. Online platforms like the News Literacy Project provide tools and curricula for parents and educators to teach media literacy skills. By taking advantage of these resources, you can fortify your family's ability to sift through the noise and find the truth.

When we put these media literacy practices into action, we build a strong foundation that protects us against misinformation and promotes a more informed, engaged, and critical citizenry. 

If you’d like to learn more about media literacy, book bans, and other pressing subjects about the spread of knowledge, feel free to visit our blog at EveryLibrary today!



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