Are You Media Literate?

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Michaela Escarcega

It’s National Media Literacy Week, and you might be thinking, “I’m a savvy Millennial who knows everything there is to know about the Internet.” At least that’s what I thought until I read this really awesome, easy-to-use, super weapon called the Get REAL! Digital Media Literacy Toolkit. Before reading the toolkit, I thought I knew everything I needed to know about the digital media culture because I grew up in it.

After checking out the toolkit, I realized I am super tech-savvy but not very media-literate. In fact, I bet you a dollar that you too just might learn something from reading it. I felt like I got a two-for-one deal: I learned information about media literacy that I never really thought deeply about before, plus (and more importantly!) the activities challenged me to do something about what I learned.

The toolkit is more than informative—it teaches you to be not just a savvy media user, but also how to be a critical content creator. You heard me right—we all are content creators. That means that we don’t just receive messages from media when we read blogs, watch videos or mindlessly scroll through memes; we also create messages that can have an impact when we write blogs, snap selfies, post comments and upload videos online. Media literacy skills can help us be less susceptible to media’s negative influences and give us the tools to make a positive difference in the world.

Okay now you might be thinking, “Why does it matter that I can be an online real-life superhero?” Well, because it’s super important. Think about how media can influence our thoughts and opinions and shape our behaviors, even our self-image. Don’t think it does? Or maybe you don’t think it affects you but you know someone else who you think is influenced by media. Either way, you can do something about it if you are media literate.

In today’s society it’s not just the media industry and advertisers that can affect how we think about ourselves. We can too, when we text, tweet and like on social media. If you don’t think an ad accurately represents what a product can do or you think it objectifies body types of women and men, do something about it! You have the ability to build confidence and instill positive self-esteem in yourself and in others.

The toolkit shows you how to challenge ads with negative messages or unrealistic body images, gives tips on how to support ads that show real people and positive behaviors, suggests ways to be proactive when you see body shaming online, gives you the language and tools to voice your opinion, and teaches you how you can write a blog just like this one.

Think a celebrity does a particularly good or bad job at using their platform for spreading messages? You guessed it—you can do something about that too. Shout out to them! That’s all there is to it.

Now that you’ve reached the end of this blog (and I possibly owe you a metaphorical dollar?), read the Get REAL! Digital Media Literacy Toolkit. It’s time to Get REAL! about media and body image and use media literacy to change the world!

Michaela Escarcega is a student at California State University Northridge where she studies her first love of Theatre Arts. She is passionate about storytelling and loves the art of comedy. Michaela hopes to use the entertainment platform to bring positive justice to the world.