Are Students Learning "Media Smarts"?

Washington, DC–More than 60 percent of educators said that their schools are not putting enough emphasis on media literacy, and 80 percent said they have to learn about how to teach media literacy on their own, according to a survey conducted by Grunwald Associates.

The survey, commissioned by Cable in the Classroom (CIC), clearly shows that media literacy is an urgent–and unmet–priority among educators in schools today. While young people spend more and more time using all forms of media in and out of the classroom, teaching them how to be thoughtful about their media use, to recognize the overt and hidden messages in media and to consider the consequences of their own actions online is simply not a priority in most schools.

"We explicitly teach children how to understand, analyze and communicate using words on paper, and rightly so. Yet we get our news and information more from TV and the internet than from the newspaper. We communicate through email and text messaging and social networking more than writing letters. We should be teaching children how to ´read´ and ´write´ in all forms of media," said Frank Gallagher, director of Education and Media Literacy at CIC.

The results of the CIC Educator Survey, Media Literacy: A Vital and Underserved Need in Schools, can be found online at

Media literacy is a key 21st Century skill because it provides a framework and method to think critically about the media and technologies students and adults use for information and entertainment. Media literacy means knowing how to access, understand, analyze, evaluate and create media messages on television, the Internet and other outlets. It also means knowing how to use these and other technologies safely, productively and ethically.

"Young people are immersed in technology, and the tools that help them create web sites, blogs, videos and podcasts also allow them to be authors and publishers. They can reach a worldwide audience, so we have to teach them to do this thoughtfully," said Gallagher. "With a small but committed effort, schools could take steps to incorporate media literacy into their school-wide curricula."

The survey also found:

* Educators estimate that students use technology and media (including TV, radio, iPods, video games, computers and the Internet) outside of school between four and five hours per day.

* Teaching media literacy is a shared task across the school, with teachers reporting having a bit more responsibility (59 percent) than library-media specialists (48 percent) and technology coordinators (31 percent).

* Teachers learn about media literacy on their own (78 percent), through workshops (56 percent), and from other teachers (58 percent), district personnel or resources (33 percent), library-media specialists (38 percent) and other organizations (14 percent).

A related Harris Interactive poll, commissioned by CIC, found that 71 percent of parents think a major portion of the responsibility for ensuring children´s safety on the Internet falls to schools. More than 40 percent said they had sought advice on how to keep their children safe online from their child´s school.

"It is obvious from both surveys that parents and teachers believe it is imperative that young people learn the skills necessary to safely and thoughtfully use the media and technology they find so compelling. Both agree that schools are key to that education," added Gallagher.

Cable in the Classroom (CIC), the cable industry´s education foundation, works to expand and enhance learning for children and youth. Created in 1989 to help schools take advantage of educational cable programming and technology, CIC has become a leading national advocate for media literacy education and for the use of technology and media for learning, as well as a valuable resource of educational cable content and services for policymakers, educators and industry leaders.

For more information about Cable in the Classroom please visit:

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