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Abstract

Media literacy has become a center of gravity for countering fake news, and a diverse array of stakeholders – from educators to legislators, philanthropists to technologists – have pushed significant resources toward media literacy programs. Media literacy, however, cannot be treated as a panacea. This paper provides a foundation for evaluating media literacy efforts and contextualizing them relative to the current media landscape. Media literacy is traditionally conceived as a process or set of skills based on critical thinking. It has a long history of development aligned along the dialectic between protection and participation. Contemporary media literacy tends to organize around five themes: youth participation, teacher training and curricular resources, parental support, policy initiatives, and evidence base construction. Programs like these have demonstrated positive outcomes, particularly in the case of rapid responses to breaking news events, connecting critical thinking with behavior change, and evaluating partisan content.However, media literacy programs also have their challenges. In general, there is a lack of comprehensive evaluation data of media literacy efforts. Some research shows that media literacy efforts can have little-to-no impact for certain materials, or even produce harmful conditions of overconfidence. The longitudinal nature of both assessing and updating media literacy programs makes this a perennial struggle. Because of these challenges, we make recommendations for future work in the field.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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