Unit 4: Media Literacy

Media Literacy is of the upmost importance for the information-saturated world in which we live. The media is everywhere and everything: radio, television, social media, and more. Media literacy is defined as, “a set of perspectives that we actively use to expose ourselves to the mass media to interpret the meaning of the messages we encounter” (Potter, 2014).

Being media literate helps an individual to control the media messages they encounter. There is constant flood of information, and it is easy to be overcome by all of the messages. Media literacy first involves exposure to the message. With increased media literacy, we can better control which messages we are exposed to, and attentive to. Further is the point of interpretation. Although taking media messages for their surface value is effortless, it can be consequential. Media literacy involves analyzing the messages we are exposed to, and deciding a few factors. What is the goal of the media message? Is this message accurate? How will this media message influence me?


In order to broaden your perspective on the mass media, and to properly interpret the message, you must account for three elements: personal locus, knowledge structure, and skills. In short, this consists of knowing ones goals, applying previous knowledge, and relying on sets of mental tools. Focus on these building blocks will increase one’s media literacy.

It is important to remember that media literacy is multidimensional and is on a continuum. High media literacy leads to the acquisition of information from multiple dimensions. We must analyze media messages with more than just the cognitive dimension, which will then allow for adequate interpretation. Multidimensionality is a key aspect. There is a range of media literacy levels. This is not something you either possess or you do not. Rather, people have varying levels of media literacy.

Photo: https://www.pinterest.com/trvsmcdnld/digital-literacy/


Unit 3: The Influence of Social Media

social media

Do you use social media?

When asking this question, the response is almost guaranteed to be “yes”. There are so many forms of social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, just to name a few. There are also such a variety of reasons for usage. Perhaps you want to keep in touch with old friends. Your love of photography inspired you to share your work. Maybe you just want to use a platform that allows you to express your thoughts. Because of these many options, vast amounts of people utilize social media daily.

Author W. James Potter writes that “ The fastest growing area of media exposure is with social media, which are increasing at a rate of 37% a year on computers and 63% a year on mobile devices (Neilsenwire, 2012)”. This finding should not be too surprising to anyone. I cannot leave my house without my phone in hand. In fact, as sad as this may be, I feel like piece of me is missing when I do not have my phone with me. I am sure many can relate. Due to this convenience, social media is constantly at our fingertips. In just a few seconds, you can open your life up to an interconnected world through these forms of media.

As daunting as this may sound, social media has provided our society with endless opportunities. I share pictures on Instagram with my friends. I see updates from my extended family on Facebook: their travels, work life, etc. I am able to stay connected to those who are not geographically near. In today’s world, this is something to be valued. Social media has also allowed for a sort of conversation. Although this can take a negative path at times, people have the ability to exchange ideas through discussions or debates. We are gifted the chance to see the world from another’s perspective. These are just a few of the ways social media can influence! The following video shows just how powerful social media really is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uppg_2nGo54

Photo: https://www.google.com/search?q=social+media&espv=2&biw=1237&bih=658&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjnpcTs-PrMAhWMWT4KHT1dBGEQ_AUIBygC#imgrc=rmD6m9x2YYfoCM%3A




Unit 2: The Impact of Mass Media

Mass media is an extremely pertinent component of everyone’s lives. We are currently living in an information-saturated world. Although this carries both advantages and disadvantages, I first think it is important to discuss the impact of the media. In his book Media Literacy, author W. James Potter notes that on average, people have been increasing their exposure time to media messages every year. I do not find this surprising, as media is all around us. I wake up in the morning, roll over, and grab my IPhone. I lay in bed while checking my text messages, email, Instagram, and Snapchats. Before even stepping foot out of bed, I have already been hit with an influx of media messages. Although this is simply my experience with media, mass media is capable of influencing much larger audiences.

Mass media is produced and intended to reinforce specific desired behaviors. Potter cites that the amount of time spent shopping is significantly higher in the United States, when compared to any other country. The shopping behavior is something we have been reinforced to do. Although I knew the impact of the mass media on shopping habits, I never considered just how much we are “persuaded” to shop. I tend to think that all the daily advertisements I see promoting clothing companies have no effect on my spending, but this is not necessarily true. The point is that I do SEE the ads. I may think it doesn’t make an impact, but later may shop for something that was displayed in that same advertisement with no thought as to why I am shopping for the item.

The mass media is not always related to brand promotion. One of the primary forms of mass media is a news outlet. I strongly dislike watching the news on television, or even listening on the radio. Some may suggest that is an easy way to become uneducated or uncultured, but I disagree. I find news outlets to share more tragic, devastating, or negative stories than those that are uplifting. When watching the news, you are likely to hear of murders, deaths, and similar occurrences. This paints an overall bleak picture of the world we live in. Instead, I chose to get my newsworthy information online, where I am better able to select what media messages I receive. While I do not undermine the importance of mass media with regard to the spread of information, I find much of it to be grim.

massmedia            I think this picture is a great visual image for the overarching influence of the mass media. There are so many media messages being intentionally and unintentionally spread throughout society. With an increase in media literacy, and close attention to the messages that we encounter, we have the ability to change the way mass media influences our lives.


Photo: http://sites.psu.edu/jennyabramsfye/wp-content/uploads/sites/28636/2015/07/massmedia.png  (Found via Google)