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Redwood Bark

What it means to be a Giant
What it means to be a Giant
Gil LadetzkyJune 22, 2024

In fifth grade, I attended my first-ever Redwood basketball game. It was a rainy Thursday night in a gym packed with energetic students. As I...

A high school student ridden with acne scrolls through social media posts of influencers with seemingly flawless skin from filters.
The bulging red bumps of your teen years shouldnt be normalized: Acne vulgaris, a detrimentally neglected disease
Emily HitchcockJune 20, 2024

Acne vulgaris is a chronic inflammatory disease —those red, white or scarred marks, the ones that stand out or grow beneath the skin as a painful...

Seniors launch their caps in their air as Dr. Barnaby Payne announces they have officially graduated.
Redwood class of 2024 graduates amid tears, cheers and airhorns: A celebration to remember
Cora ChampommierJune 15, 2024

  On Thursday, June 13, the Redwood class 2024 solidified their impact on the school over the past four years and became a step closer...

All students need media literacy training

Swipe right on reality

The moon landing was staged and Apollo 13 never happened. QAnon. PizzaGate. Holocaust deniers. These are just a few of the endless conspiracies that accompany social media’s bottomless index, and one of the most dangerous digital issues today. Conspiracies like these spread like wildfire, consuming and overtaking readers on every platform. The problem isn’t necessarily social media outlets themselves, but rather, people’s daily passive consumption of misinformation.  

While constantly scrolling on social media, you might have heard the term media literacy. It might not be as interesting as the video of a puppy, but it is more important, especially in the technologically advancing world around us. Social media is not a reliable source of information, which is media literacy, or the capability to critically analyze media and text to determine credibility, is such a vital skill for high school students. To make this change, our school must take action to increase awareness of media literacy in the student population through educational programs and resources. 

The rapid rise of social media in the past decade has produced drastic effects on young generations. As tired teens turn to their favorite apps to mindlessly scroll, their daily capacity for information is overfilled. In fact, according to a recent survey by News Gallup, the average U.S. teen spends 4.8 hours per day on social media platforms. While social media continues to be a huge entertainment outlet, its apparent popularity has resulted in the platforms painting themselves as news outlets as well. The news shared on TikTok, Instagram, Twitter and more is received so frequently by teens that the lines between real and fake news have been blurred almost entirely. According to the March 2024 Bark survey, 37 percent of our student population rely on social media as their main source of news. Anything can be posted on social media, regardless of its accuracy, which makes social media and potentially dupable adolescents a poor match.

The concept of speed and convenience is a large reason for the use of social media as a news source. According to Pew Research, 20 percent of U.S. adults say that convenience is what they like most about getting news on social media, whereas another survey shows that nine percent of people appreciate the speed of social media, as well as the easily digestible content When time is ticking, social media can always answer burning questions or provide a quick overview of countless topics, but it won’t always give factual and trustworthy information. Looking deeper into the content you’re consuming, and taking the time to find the facts will more likely give accurate information. 

Though social media has become a widely accepted news outlet amongst teens, these platforms have never claimed to be a source of reliable news. Virtually anything can be posted on social media, regardless of accuracy. For most social media applications, everything except hate speech and discriminatory language is allowed to be posted for the world to see. The social media app has the right to take a post down that it deems harmful or unfactual because of their status as private companies.

Mark Zuckerberg, owner of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and other platforms, has faced backlash due to the abundance of misinformation spread on his apps. For example, when Holocaust deniers were spreading fake news, Zuckerberg came forward to acknowledge the growing problem on his apps. However, he only offered a partial solution to this problem. 

“If something is deemed to be fake, it might remain on the site, but it would be pushed down in the news feed so fewer people would see it,” Zuckerberg said. 

Even the creator of social media can’t create a solution for the spread of misinformation on social media, which emphasizes the dire need for a global media literacy campaign. Zuckerberg can only limit the misinformation that lives on his apps, and he has been working to have more government regulation on the internet since 2019. If the creator of these platforms cannot have trust in the information on their apps, neither should we. The only way to prevent the spread of misinformation on social media is to read with caution and take the time to find a trusting source before jumping to conclusions on an important issue.

Media literacy education and lessons on safe social media use offer important insight to be able to decipher misinformation from the truth. High school-age youth must have the capacity to decipher true and false information, and media literacy only continues to gain importance in this fast-paced world. 

The University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public has an annual media literacy education event for high school students, teachers and librarians to learn how to navigate complex information and make informed decisions about what to believe online. Mis-Info Day, as it is celebrated annually in late March, has been integrated into the curriculum of hundreds of schools across the country. Since misinformation affects all teens, the education surrounding media literacy should be accessible to everyone. Redwood, as well as all schools nationwide, should participate in Mis-Info Day. In doing so, teens are best equipped to internalize and decipher the extensive misinformation they receive daily. 

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