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.