Media Literacy = Educate + Engage + Empower


“Learning by doing” is what National Media Literacy Week is about for me. Students in my service-learning media courses at California State University, Northridge have created a packed-week of social media-driven activities to spread media literacy awareness and promote action strategies.

Service learning emphasizes “learning by doing” – students apply what they learn beyond the classroom, collaborating with a partner, to develop civic responsibility and empower themselves in their world. Similar to media literacy, service learning emphasizes critical inquiry and reflection, encourages civic engagement, and reinforces digital citizenship. For many years now, I have been teaching service-learning based media courses. What I’ve observed is that service learning involvement can be a transformational experience for students that has a ripple effect throughout their lives and the community served by the organization.

During the past several years, students in my Women, Men and Media course have been partnering with the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). The students updated their media literacy resources and created a Digital Media Literacy Toolkit available on their website. Last year NEDA asked my students to help launch a national initiative to expand their youth outreach to colleges and universities across the country. The campaign is called Proud2Bme On Campus. My students developed activities and an accompanying guidebook entitled How to Spread Body Positivity in Your Community. They now blog on Proud2Bme.org and serve as peer mentors to students at other colleges who want to get involved in the campaign.

For the first U.S. National Media Literacy Week, the students organized campus-wide and social media activities and events. Here’s a sampling: 5 Day Proud2Bme Facebook Challenge to analyze the meaning behind the message, Celebrity ShoutOut to Zendaya for calling out Modeliste magazine for digitally altering her body in a cover feature and fashion spread, Media Literacy Advocate Challenge to spread media literacy in the digital world, presentation by Jared Geller, producing partner of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who received a 2015 Media Literacy Award for their Emmy-award winning series HITRECORD ON TV, a performance by Acasola, CSUN’s premiere a capella group, and much more.

We want people to know that media literacy is an essential life skill that everyone, regardless of age – children, teens, young adults, parents, educators, and others – needs to safely and responsibly navigate the emergent digital culture. Check out our activities at www.bemedialiterate.com and join us in making media literacy reverberate throughout the media ecosystem.

Bobbie Eisenstock, Ph.D. teaches and consults about the social-psychological effects of the emergent digital media culture on children, teens, and families. A national expert on media literacy, she facilitates workshops to help parents, educators, health practitioners, and youth advocates understand the risks and realities of social media and implement strategies to manage digital footprints. Dr. Eisenstock is on the Journalism faculty at California State University, Northridge where she serves as a Fellow at the Institute for Community Health and Wellbeing and directs the Proud2Bme On Campus Campaign. The National Eating Disorders Association recently honored her with The Westin Family Award for Excellence in Activism and Advocacy. Contact @ BobbieEisenstock.com


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