Media Literacy Manifesto…because who doesn’t love a manifesto? by guest blogger Caitlin Leahy

My aunt was at a wedding with a couple and their 18 month-old daughter. She became fussy, and reaching out to mother, cried out “iPad! iPad!” Not “mama”, not “dada.” The child didn’t cry for a pacifer or her favorite stuffed animal.  She wanted that iPad!

Like any good mother, mom pulled out the tablet and handed it over as the girl happily poked and pawed at the screen. Her source of comfort was not the enveloping arms of a caring parent or the warm familiarity of a favorite toy, but a devastatingly sleek 1.44 pound machine.

But what happens when the source of our entertainment becomes the thing that comforts us? How many times have you heard “I got sucked into the YouTube vortex last night” or “I  spent three hours pinning!”  The evolution of media consumption has taken “numbing out” to a whole new level.  And in many ways, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  After all, humans are hard-wired to like to feel good; this is how we’ve survived . (Ahem, reproduction.)

The Media Awareness Project advocates taking the time to think critically about the entertainment we enjoy and the messages we consume.  We advocate pushing the limits of our personal comfort zones to explore our dependence on media and the latent messages that exist in the steady diet of gigabytes we consume.

The Romans had an interesting phrase for complacency: Bread & Circuses.  It meant that with food and entertainment readily available for the citizens of a once politically motivated society, people just got …well comfortable.  Most historians say this led to the downfall of the Roman republic.

We need more media literacy and media awareness.  It is the last defense against the bread & circus of technology, media, expansion.  MAP calls for media literacy not because we don’t like the expansion, but rather because we love its power and believe every child is entitled to a thorough education on what can be done with it.  We believe in literacy education even when it starts with an iPad.


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