Media Literacy is the ability to interpret and create personal meaning from the verbal and visual symbols we take in every day through the various forms of media. Media Literacy empowers people to be both critical thinkers and creative producers of a wide range of messages using image, language, and sound. It is the skillful application of literacy skills to media and technology messages.
As communication technologies transform society, they impact our understanding of ourselves, our communities and our diverse cultures, making media literacy an essential life skill for the 21st Century.
Media Literacy can help youth understand messages heard in music lyrics, promoted on clothing and jewelry, shown in ads, and portrayed on TV or in the movies. This helps youth learn to see and reisist messages that promote using tobacco, alcohol, and illegal drugs.
A recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Children Now found that 38 percent of children aged 10-12 say their peers find out "a lot" about issues like alcohol, drugs, tobacco, violence from TV, movies, and other entertainment media ("An Introduction to Media Literacy, Flathead Prevention Alliance).
Individuals who are media literate are better able to decipher the complex messages they receive from television, radio, newspapers, magazines, books, billboards and signs, packaging and marketing materials, video games, and the Internet.