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Media Literacy and the Emerging Citizen

Youth, Engagement and Participation in Digital Culture

Paul Mihailidis

Media Literacy and the Emerging Citizen is about enhancing engagement in a digital media culture and the models that educators, parents and policy makers can utilize to place media-savvy youth into positions of purpose, responsibility and power. Two specific challenges are at the core of this book’s argument that media literacy is the path toward more active and robust civic engagement in the 21st century:
How can media literacy enable core competencies for value-driven, diverse and robust digital media use?
How can media literacy enable a more civic-minded participatory culture?
These challenges are great, but they need to be examined in their entirety if media literacy is to begin to address the opportunities they present for democracy, participation and discourse in a digital media age. By presenting information that places media literacy at the center of what it means to be an engaged citizen, educators and policy makers will understand why media literacy must be integrated into formal and informal education systems before it’s too late
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Chapter 4. Young Citizens and Perceptions of Social Media Use – Integrated Information Landscapes


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So far I’ve presented some background on the evolving frameworks for citizenship, the field of media literacy, and some of the ways that they are connected in digital culture. The connections between media and citizenship are, of course, as old as Gutenberg’s printing press. But they are taking on a new codependence in a society that relies on media for more and more of its basic infrastructure. The sheer growth of time spent with digital media, social networks, and increasingly mobile “smart phones” (see Lenhart et al., 2010, 2010b, 2010c), is facilitating new ways to communicate with friends, family, and our communities. Young people are now seen as always on, connected and expressive throughout their daily lives (Ito, 2009). They are using social networks to find out about current events (Monk, 2011), to engage in the sharing of content, and to extend the walls of the classroom (Junco & Cotten, 2010; Junco, 2012a).

A host of studies have explored how collaborative technologies are enhancing sociability, hobbies, personal and professional connectivity, collaboration, and professional networking (Anderson, 2011; Hartley-Brewer, 2009; Watkins, 2009). At the same time, studies have found that multitasking students are distracted to the tune of switching between media devices every 14 seconds, or 120 times in 27.5 minutes (Brasel & Gips, 2011). This multitasking has taken a ← 71 | 72 →toll on short-term memory (Clapp et al., 2011). Heavy technology...

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