‘Fake news’ – just hearing that and one person springs to mind. But while Trump obsesses over whatever negative stories he deems false, he does (inadvertently) bring up a very serious issue facing today’s generation – what can you believe in the news today.
And with Angelina Jolie taking a stand with the BBC with new programme Our World, the need to provide children with skills in order to work out the world of media for themselves is more important than ever.
And by media we should be looking at not just news, but film, TV, music, billboards, radio, advertisements, displays, video games and literature – anything with a message can and should be analyzed.
Digital & Media literacy
In an interview with Campus.ie recently, I talked about how digital literacy skills are incredibly important for children. In it, I said;
“In a world of ‘fake news’, children need digital literacy skills – how do you evaluate a piece of information? Is the source trust-worthy? Why is this news and why am I being told it?
I think there is an onus on teachers and parents to explain these kinds of events age-appropriately. School is supposed to be a safe-space and that reassurance is needed. It’s how you relate it to them that’s key”.
Anaylze, evaluate, compare, recount are words we use all the time in lesson plans. They are some of the building blocks to becoming media literate. It engages critical thinking across a wide array of topics and mediums. And kids are clued into the world of media more than we ever give credit….thanks mostly to social media.
An example of weak media literacy
Back in October of 2017, Ireland was going through a big storm called Ophelia. Schools were cancelled, work was on hold – everyone was told to stay indoors. Now in a rare ‘attempt’ at humour, I attached a gif to a tweet with the hash tag.
The gif in question was from a news story many moons ago, and quite obviously had “4Gifs.com” attached. It had no “Irish” vibe to it. When I woke up, the tweet had gone somewhat viral with Twitter notifications deleting my phone’s battery in a matter of minutes.
— Barry O'Rourke (@orourke28) October 16, 2017
Twitter tells me over 1.3 million people have interacted with this tweet, the majority of whom thought the gif was live footage from Ireland. It was included in several ‘news’ pieces and people were interacting with each other over it.
Now some did get the joke at the time and either laughed or eye-rolled at it as one tends to with gif tweets; but a worrying amount didn’t – and believed it as face value.
That was scary. Now if someone had a more sinister motive than a funny gif, tied it into the news agenda.
Upskilling yourself as a teacher or parent
Part of educating kids on media literacy is becoming media literate yourself. The internet in particular has a brilliant catalogue of information we use everyday – teaching kids and ourselves how to navigate that is key.
Over the next few days I’ll be sharing some great resources I’ve found/and used to tackle this topic. Books like The True Story of The Three Little Pigs reaches any age group for the topic.
But this video from FlackCheck paints a pretty accurate picture of what you yourself have to bring to the table before planning a lesson. It’s a succinct review of what’s what (if you can even trust me at this stage!)