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Media Literacy, Disinformation vs. Misinformation


Media and screen time is becoming more of an issue among parents. With more and more children becoming glued to their devices, children’s increasing exposure to various social media platforms is a cause for concern. According to a recent report, children and youth spend around seven hours on media each day, exposing them to a lot of misinformation from different media platforms.

Although today’s media can be both entertaining and informative, most children are untrained in how to use social media thoughtfully. We all know that many media messages are not truthful or accurate, so children are more likely to make poor choices when they lack knowledge or critical thinking skills. This can lead to many negative outcomes that affect mental health, perception of body image, and behavior. Thus, parents should teach media literacy to their kids to avoid these consequences and identify misinformation. If you want to become an advocate of online safety or be equipped with the knowledge of using social media responsibly, we encourage you to join our online safety movement today.

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What Is Media Literacy?

Media literacy — or media education — refers to the skills, knowledge, and understanding of media, communication, and technology. It is a process that enables individuals to use a range of communication and media technologies to independently understand and analyze the media messages they receive.

It is an excellent 21st-century skill that helps students learn and improve their critical thinking skills, so they can better filter out what is healthy and harmful to them. With media literacy, students will be able to critically evaluate any media message and disseminate it in a creative yet informative manner. They can then avoid viewing and spreading false or misleading information.

Without media literacy education, media users won’t be able to know that they’re absorbing a lot of misinformation or disinformation that is based on pure conspiracy theory. Eventually, they believe in these news sources and also spread false information. Additionally, a lack of media literacy skills can lead to hate speech because individuals aren’t taught the proper way to use their freedom of speech.

Misinformation vs Disinformation

Misinformation — also called wrong or false information — is often accidentally presented as being true, but it’s not. Misinformation is false and can be damaging to the field of journalism, as well as consumers and citizens who value the information they receive. When one is well-versed in media literacy, they can distinguish between misinformation and the truth to help them make decisions that benefit themselves and their community.

Meanwhile, disinformation is false or bad information that the person spreading it knows to be false, and it’s used intentionally. When you share disinformation, you are publishing information that is bad or false intentionally to benefit yourself, a particular person, or an organization. At times, people may collaborate with other media users or groups of people to disseminate misleading information. This action is called a disinformation campaign.

Hate Speech

In a democracy, people have the privilege of free speech. However, some people abuse it to the extent of delivering hate speech. Hate speech is speech that attacks a person or group based on attributes such as race, religion, ethnic origin, nationality, language, gender identity, and sexual orientation. In 2020 alone, the FBI reported 8,263 hate crime incidents, which is clear that hate crimes are increasing significantly.

It’s our responsibility as media creators, educators, and human beings to examine how we use language to say who or what has value. We cannot afford to be careless about who, how, or for whom media is produced. Hate speech is real and is harmful. If we are not actively aware of it in our own lives, we are exacerbating the issue.

Advantages of Media Education

In today’s digital age, everyone needs to be a media literate consumer. No matter what your interests are, you will be inundated with images and messages every day. Some of these messages may come from sources that do not have your best interests in mind. As a consumer, it is crucial to know how to filter through the mass amounts of visual content you or your children consume each day and determine what is reliable. 

Media literacy is a critical skill for anyone who consumes information. Learning how to evaluate content based on its source will make you able to spot fake news and understand online messages before sharing them to the public. Furthermore, it teaches students how to analyze and organize media as a critical thinking practice through policy, corporate structures, and creative production. Other benefits include:

  • Helps people become responsible media consumers: It gives individuals and students powerful tools of communication to be successful in today’s world. By using these tools, you will become an informed individual and contributor to a great society.

  • Develops critical thinking for students: Media literacy practices both at home and at school can prepare the next generation to better identify, analyze, and make judgments about media content. Teach kids how to read between the lines and analyze biased or intent reports and news.

  • Excellent educational tool: It helps students learn about new ideas, cultures, and perspectives in the local community or across countries, which may not have been previously considered.

  • Teaches effective communication: Media literacy is also an essential element of effective online communication. It allows you to express your views in a way that others can understand.

  • Promotes viewpoint diversity: Students can learn how to share their public opinions and gather diverse viewpoints that can help in the nation’s developmental projects and strategies.

  • Boost professional development: Media education empowers students to become professional participants in the media landscape.

Empowering People To Read, Watch, & Think Critically

Media literacy is critical in today’s generation, yet our education system doesn’t include it in our curriculum. That’s why WashingTech exists -- to provide information, education, resources, and innovative programs to empower everyone to think more critically about what they see and hear.

[Join the Online Safety Movement]

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