“Digital and Media Literacy: A Plan of Action – cover” by Knight Foundation is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.
Meeting the Challenges of the Information Age: The importance of Digital Literacy and Media Literacy
In today’s era of information explosion, digital literacy and media literacy have become two kinds of abilities that people should have. With the popularization of the Internet, the emergence of misinformation and malicious remarks has become more and more frequent, which has brought serious impact on society and individuals. This article will explore the importance of digital literacy and media literacy, and how these two key concepts specifically help people sensibly distinguish misinformation from malicious speech. In the course of the discussion, two basic concepts of literacy are introduced, their practical application in daily life is understood, and their positive impact on society and individuals is analyzed. By studying these literacy, people can better understand how to maintain the authenticity of information in this digital age and promote the harmonious development of society.
Definition and practical application of digital literacy and media literacy
Digital literacy and media literacy are key competencies that people should possess in today’s digital age. First of all, according to Koltay (2011), digital literacy refers to an individual’s ability to collect, integrate, evaluate and use information in the digital environment. It includes not only basic web browsing skills, but also privacy protection and network security knowledge. This greatly helps people to use the Internet more safely and wisely, avoiding the impact of misinformation and malicious speech. Secondly, good media literacy can help people distinguish between misinformation and malicious speech. Koltay’s research (2011) shows that good media literacy can enhance people’s awareness and appreciation of media, helping them understand how media creates meaning, organizes and constructs reality. The key to media literacy is to cultivate people’s critical thinking about media information, so that people can distinguish misinformation and avoid being influenced by it. Therefore, digital literacy and media literacy not only enable people to use the Internet more safely and sensibly, but also protect them from misinformation and malicious speech. This not only improves the efficiency of people’s access to and use of information, contributes to personal development, but also plays a positive role in promoting the information quality and cultural level of the society.
Furthermore, digital literacy and media literacy are essential for the stability of society and people’s physical and mental health. Philip M. Napoli pointed out in his article (2018) that in the era of mass media, the spread of false information has great limitations due to limited portals and technologies. Today, however, the advent of the Internet provides opportunities for disinformation to circumvent restrictions. For example, the cost of disseminating news has fallen, the financial incentives for producing legitimate news have fallen, and barriers to gatekeeping have fallen. In this context, digital and media literacy of Internet users become very important. For example, a fake video of the Ukrainian president surrendering went viral online, convincing people that he had surrendered (Allyn, 2022). People with high digital and media literacy in society have more rational and independent opinions and are less susceptible to such misinformation. They can better participate in the public debate, help spread benign words, and curb the spread of such misinformation. In this case, the improvement of these two kinds of literacy can not only help individuals acquire and judge information, but also indirectly help the society stabilize the information dissemination environment. Therefore, improving digital literacy and media literacy is not only about individuals, but also directly related to the health and progress of society as a whole.
The challenges of improving literacy
However, some argue that improving digital and media literacy takes time and resources and may not be practical for some social groups. This is because they lack the financial means to cover the cost of using the Internet, or lack adequate local infrastructure. According to the survey (Li & Chen, 2021), in some poor public housing communities in the United States, many people in this social group can only use cheap digital devices and Internet services because their income is too low, and they cannot use the Internet smoothly. This makes it very difficult for them to go from having no digital skills to mastering basic digital skills. In this case it does take a lot of resources and time to help them learn digital and media literacy. Although there is some plausibility in this view, governments can use various methods to reduce the cost of Internet access. Specifically, governments can use affordable and easy-to-use technologies to increase the affordability of digital resources and reduce the cost of using the Internet; Governments can work with schools to provide relevant digital skills training and so on. Through these initiatives, the issue of resources and time can be gradually addressed to ensure that all social groups have access to digital and media literacy.
“CDC Central America Regional Office in Guatemala” by CDC Global Health is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
In addition, others believe that the importance of improving users’ digital and media literacy is overstated. This is because even if people’s two qualities are high enough, they may still be influenced by social opinion and manipulated information. Because certain organizations and political forces have the ability to manipulate information on the Internet. Misinformation is packaged as fact by various means, so that people can’t help but believe the misinformation they publish. We experienced this firsthand, for example, during the COVID-19 pandemic. There are a lot of misinformation about the source of the virus, prevention methods and vaccines circulating on the Internet, causing great panic and confusion. Many people with high digital and media literacy are misinformed. In this case, it seems that improving the two qualities of individuals does not have much effect. Because the producers of such information have great skills and rich resources, they can blind the ordinary people’s discernment and confuse truth with lies. It is difficult for individuals to resist such highly organized and systematic manipulation.
“Publicum” by Sv is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.
Of course, despite the ability of special groups and political forces to manipulate the web, it is still important to improve users’ digital and media literacy. Improved literacy gives users the ability to distinguish between right and misinformation and to look at it critically. Although they do have a superior ability to manipulate the network, improving literacy can make people more vigilant about this kind of information. If they want to cheat, they need to spend more resources. At the same time, the government and society will also strengthen relevant supervision and provide the public with more transparent and trustworthy information sources. This reduces the chance for misinformation to spread. Therefore, improving these two qualities is not only a personal need, but also an effort to establish a healthy and authentic information dissemination environment for the society.
To sum up, in this era of information explosion, digital literacy and media literacy are very important. They not only help individuals to use the Internet safely and rationally, avoid being affected by misinformation and malicious speech, but also help to improve the information quality and cultural level of the society, and help to maintain social stability and people’s physical and mental health. Although improving literacy is a matter of time and resources, as well as the manipulation of special organizations and political forces, these challenges are gradually being addressed through the efforts of governments, societies and individuals. Provide financial and technical support, strengthen regulation, and provide a transparent and trusted source of information. These measures are not only the needs of individuals, but also contribute to the establishment of a healthy and authentic information dissemination environment in society.
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Global, C. D. C. (2020). CDC Central America Regional Office in Guatemala [Photo]. https://www.flickr.com/photos/cdcglobal/49991157908/
Knight Foundation. (2011). Digital and Media Literacy: A Plan of Action – cover [Photo]. https://www.flickr.com/photos/knightfoundation/5601056362/
Li, X., & Chen, W. (2021). Core Tech Support Networks and Digital Inequalities in American Disadvantaged Urban Communities. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 26(2), 91–107. https://doi.org/10.1093/jcmc/zmaa019
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Sv. (2007). Deutsch: Medien, Presse, Rundfunk, Fernsehen, Information, Desinformation, Überredungskunst, Beeinflussung, Manipulation, Massen, Leute, Betrug, heimtückisch, hinterlistig, Pressefreiheit, Strategie der Spannung, Werbung, Propaganda, Publikum, Massenpublikum, Pluralismus, Kommunikation, Entfremdung, Kino, Parodie, Meinungsbildner, Meinungsmacher, Konsumismus, Volksbühne, Journalist, Öffentliche MeinungEnglish: mass-media, information, disinformation, manipulation, people, persuasion, arm-twisting, communication, fraud, critical thinking, subdue, controll, press freedom, information awareness, strategy of tension, broadcasting, television, propaganda, public, pluralism, alienation, estrangement, cinema, parody, opinion maker, spindoctors, politics, political theatre, political theater, agitprop, consumerism, journalist, public opinionEspañol: mass media,estrategia de la tensión, pensamiento critico, información, desinformación, poder persuasivo, poder de convicción, publicidad, propaganda, televisión, radio, radiodifusión, comunicación, prensa, dominio de mercado, alienación, parodía, periodista, opinión públicaFrançais : mass media, esprit critique, stratégie de la tension, médias de masse, pub, publicité, réclame, liberté de la presse, propagande, masse, public, public de masse, presse, communication, aliénation, cinema, parodie, faiseurs d’opinion, opinion publiqueItaliano: mezzi d’informazione, comunicazione, pensiero critico, manipolazione, masse, gente, televisione, stampa, informazione, disinformazione, politica, pubblicità, subdolo, pubblico, propaganda, pluralismo, alienazione, cinema, radio, parodia, teatrino della politica, controllo sociale, opinione pubblicaРусский: Средства массовой информации, дезинформация, пропаганда, пародия, агитпроп, Общественное мнение. Own work. https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2990611
The media and the literacies: Media literacy, information literacy, digital literacy. (n.d.). https://doi.org/10.1177/0163443710393382