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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 6. Media Literacy Education in Digital Culture: Bridging the Disconnect


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The future of digital culture—yours, mine, and ours—depends on how well we learn to use the media that have infiltrated, amplified, distracted, enriched, and complicated our lives. How you employ a search engine, stream video from your phonecam, or update your Facebook status matters to you and everyone, because the ways people use new media in the first years of an emerging communication regime can influence the way those media end up being used and misused for decades to come.

— Howard Rheingold, Net Smart, 1

Learning how to effectively use digital media, as Rheingold notes, plays a significant role in the ways new technologies are utilized in society. The question, then, is not whether or not these technologies are enhancing or dumbing down our culture, but rather how we can learn to use them in smart and meaningful ways. At the outset of Net Smart: Learning To Thrive Online Rheingold (2012) posits, “Instead of confining my exploration to whether or not Google is making us stupid, Facebook is commoditizing our privacy, or Twitter is chopping our attention into microslices (all good questions), I’ve been asking myself and others how to use social media intelligently, humanely, and above all mindfully” (p. 1).

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