Media education helps ‘contain the fire hose’ of media bombardment – Catholic Standard


How many hours do you interact with the media each day? It may be more than you think.

It’s one thing to surf the Internet. It’s another to watch a favorite TV show or put on those noise canceling headphones and listen to your favorite music while working. Or, maybe you’ve borrowed an armful of books from the library in order to stay planted in your chair while only getting up for meals and the like.

Common Sense Media says the average teenager spends nine hours a day with entertainment media.

It’s all part of a media “fire hose” bombarding us, said Juma Inniss, a media literacy educator in Boston, who is also an advisor to Media Literacy Now, the leading grassroots organization for media law. media education in the United States.

Part of learning about media literacy, Inniss said in an Aug. 18 online conference that he called “Media Literacy 101,” is to “contain the fire hose.”

As important as media literacy is for adults, it is even more important for teenagers, which Inniss called “the second most impressionable life stage in human life” outside of the age of 2. years.

He cited research from the Center for Media and Child Health in Boston, which found that teens who listen to more sexualized lyrics and watch more music videos with sexualized lyrics were more likely to have more sexual partners and contract more. sexually transmitted infections than those who had them. not.

“Music is actually the only medium that influences our emotions either actively or passively,” Inniss said. “Listening to pro-social lyrics can increase empathy and pro-social behavior,” adding, “The messages in this song can still influence us without our permission,” even when we are performing seemingly mundane tasks, like cleaning the house. .

It’s not just audio, but video, he warned. “Thirty years of research has concluded that watching violence in the media leads to an increase in aggressive attitudes and behavior,” Inniss said. He cited evidence such as the number of mass shootings in the United States and the parade of deaths from gun violence.

“It’s not a coincidence,” he said. “Our culture is changing. Our value systems change, and what we get used to is changing.

Inniss has also taken on one of the hottest potatoes on the media landscape in recent years: fake news.

“One in five teenagers thinks the information they find online through Google and Bing is true,” he said, although it is not teenagers who are solely responsible for the 8.7 million actions, reactions and comments for fake news in the presidential election articles posted on Facebook. in 2016, when Donald Trump won the presidency.

“Only 27% of adults said they were very confident about spotting real news from fake,” Inniss said. “In the same study, young people said they were 44% confident in their ability to spot fake news. … It touches and affects us all in so many ways.

Excessive media screen time has been linked to physical and psycho-emotional consequences in young people, from obesity to suicide, according to Inniss.

“Researchers have also found that too much screen time can have a neurological effect on adolescent brains similar to that of heroin addiction,” he said, adding that a project Research involving brain mapping of a heroin addict and a teenager addicted to screens found that “their brain patterns were similar.

That’s where media education comes in, Inniss said. “Media literacy can help you think critically and gain more control over how media messages influence you,” he said, “not just to take action, but one of the main benefits is that we can control the media messages that influence us. . … Media literacy can help us make better life choices.

For those who wish to become more media savvy, there are “five basic questions” anyone can ask themselves, Inniss said.

They are: Who created this message? What creative techniques are used to get my attention? How could different people understand this message differently from me? What lifestyles, values ​​and perspectives are represented or omitted in this post? And why is this message being sent?

“A lot of media messages are created for one of two reasons: profit or power,” Innis said. The questions are not meant to reflect “a cynical mindset,” he added, but “a critical mindset that doesn’t take life at face value. It forces us to go further.


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