Letter to the Editor – Media literacy is growing problem

Joely Hurkman

UWO no long requiring masks! Did you believe that? Accepting the first thing you see doesn’t make it right. Lack of media literacy is a growing issue with teens and young adults, and it needs to be stopped. Media literacy is the ability to navigate the internet in search of the truth instead of believing the first article or post you come across.

Using critical thinking, people need to search on various websites and use multiple sources to come to a definite answer. Without doing the research, individuals are prone to accept misinformation and never know it. You would be stuck in a mindset that you believe to be fact, when in reality, you just hold a strong opinion.

Let’s use an example, focusing on a problem on our own UW Oshkosh campus – the use of masks. There have been posters placed throughout Halsey and Reeve regarding if they were optional or not. The truth, when indoors and in large crowds, is that masks are mandatory on campus. Otherwise, it’s your decision to wear them when alone in an office or building or hanging outdoors.

The University’s Chancellor, Andy Leavitt, released an email to every student and faculty member about the rules for mask-wearing and the consequences of going against COVID-19 guidelines.

If students were to look at the UWO official website and examine the home page, they’d know that the posters were fakes. There would be no need for a campus-wide email to be sent and no backlash from those stating the posters were legit.

Teens and young adults need to think critically before believing what they see and hear. Misinformation and false “facts” are easily spread, and the rise of all media only enhances the problem. Media literacy needs to be taught in all classes and should be the first thing people think about before believing information.