Recognizing fake news is only one aspect of media literacy. How a single librarian equips teenagers to discern whom to believe

Guides to effectively comprehend the digital world are available at the South Brunswick High School library, along with the fragrance of ancient books and shelves of trendy novels. At this campus in New Jersey, school librarian Lisa Manganello has made it her mission to teach teenagers how to navigate the vast, sometimes purposefully confusing, world of online information. Poster after poster offers advice on “Smart Social Networking” and what constitutes “Good Digital Citizenship.

 

According to Media Literacy Now, an advocacy group that oversees and promotes the subject’s implementation in K–12 schools across the country, media literacy is the capacity to analyze media messages and the systems within which they are embedded, evaluate their impact on ideas, emotions, and behaviors, and produce media with consideration and diligence. Since many children today acquire their news from social media, where fake news and content produced by AI are common, 18 states, according to Media Literacy today, have some kind of K–12 media literacy curriculum in place. Of those, four need media literacy; state-by-state development of instructional requirements is currently underway for Delaware, Texas, New Jersey, and, as of this year, California.

 

Of course, false material found online can lead children to false messages as well as hazards like cyberbullying, poor body image, and a route toward substance abuse, according to the group. Olga Polites, the leader of Media Literacy Now’s New Jersey branch, stated that the potential impact of educating kids how to understand what they see online may be nothing short of “life-changing.” For example, when cars were first developed, seatbelts weren’t considered essential, and learning to drive was a completely different experience, according to her.

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