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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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Conclusion. Media Literacy & Civic Life in a Digital Culture


← 148 | 149 →·CONCLUSION·


Because democracy depends on citizenship, the emphasis then was to think about how to constitute a competent and virtuous citizen body. That led directly, in almost every one of the founders’ minds, to the connection between citizenship and education.

— Benjamin Barber, 2002, p. 22

The framers of the Constitution of the United States firmly believed that in order for democracy to thrive, citizens must be well educated. “I know of no safe repository of the ultimate power of society but people. And if we think them not enlightened enough, the remedy is not to take the power from them, but to inform them by education,” wrote Thomas Jefferson in a letter to William Jarvis in 1820.

Plato feared that written communication “will create forgetfulness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves” (p. 46). Plato’s anxiety is one that continues to be voiced today. How will we form memory, build knowledge, and reach truth if we are no longer forced to remember in an age where information is at our fingertips? Ong, in Orality and Literacy (1982) bemoans the threats from technological advancement on the human mind but notes that “we have to die to continue living” (p. 15).

← 149 | 150 →Orality, to Plato and Ong, plays a central role in...

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