Right now, you’re reading an article online. That’s one type of media. Other examples are books, video games, TV shows, radio, and movies. Together, they use text, pictures, and sounds to send a message.
Media teaches us about our world. But there is a lot of information out there. It’s important to know how to make sense of it all. That’s what media literacy is all about.
A group from Canada called MediaSmarts created Media Literacy Week in 2006. A U.S. group later formed a similar celebration. The National Association of Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) created Media Literacy Week in the United States in 2015. Across North America, Media Literacy Week happens October 23–27 in 2023.
But what is “media literacy” exactly? NAMLE defines it as “the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, create, and act using all forms of communication.” Donnell Probst from NAMLE explained why this matters.
“We must learn how to ask questions in order to understand information,” Probst told News-O-Matic. She suggested questions you might ask about a piece of media. “What is this information trying to get me to do or think? Is this message harmful for me or others?” She added: “Being media is our defense against .”
To teach media literacy, NAMLE made a group of monsters — perfect for Halloween! Their names are the Giant, Scary Share-y, and the Gobblin’ Goblin.
The Gullible Giant doesn’t think about media. He doesn’t question the content he creates either. Being gullible may seem harmless. But believing misinformation can put you at risk. For example, you could end up losing money in a scam.
Scary Share-y has many tentacles. This monster can quickly spread a story all over the internet! Notice how it has only one eye. That’s because this monster only briefly glances at the content before sending it out. It might not seem like a big deal. But sharing misinformation can be harmful. It could hurt someone’s feelings. It can also prevent real news from getting out there. Be sure to think about what you are sharing.
The Gobblin’ Goblin has two staring eyes. This monster turns its never-ending gaze toward the screen. Its gigantic mouth gobbles up all the media it can. The Gobblin’ Goblin can’t look away. The goblin reminds us that it’s important to take screentime breaks!
Probst added a piece of advice for Media Literacy Week. She said: “Ask questions about ALL media you consume!”
Updated October 20, 2023, 5:02 P.M. (ET)
By Russell Kahn (Russ)