You are here:

Media Literacy: What, Why, and How?

Educational Perspectives Volume 38, Number 2, ISSN 0013-1849


Literacy has traditionally been associated with the printed word. But today, print literacy is not enough. Children and youth need to learn to "read" and interpret visual images as well. Film, television, videos, DVDs, computer games, and the Internet all hold a prominent and pervasive place in one's culture. Its presence in people's lives is only going to increase. For this reason, the acquisition of media literacy skills is a necessity for today's children and youth. They need to know not only how to use new technology, but also how to critically assess its influence and impact. This is what media literacy is about--the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and produce information for specific outcomes. The best way to develop critical and analytical media skills is to have students produce their own media, whether it be a school newspaper, class comic book, music video, closed-circuit TV news show, or video documentary. In this way students are encouraged to become creative thinkers and problem-solvers as they script, storyboard, produce, and evaluate media for a variety of purposes and audiences. As a result, critical viewing skills emerge naturally and authentically as a by-product of the production process. This approach is much more effective than teachers' lectures about the motives and manipulations of the media and lessons focusing on deconstructing students' viewing pleasures. When students are encouraged to produce their own media, they quickly learn the key concepts of media literacy such as agency, category, technology, language, audience, and representation. In the process, students are also provided with the opportunity to mediate, rework, and in some cases resist the messages of the media. When students produce, assess, and evaluate their own media products, they gain new understandings and learn to explore issues related to the news, advertisements, movies, television shows, political commentary, public service announcements, and other media genres. Students also acquire interests and skills that transfer from the media they create to the media they view. Participation in production processes also broadens opportunities for future careers. And as technology evolves and the demands of society continue to change, the need to integrate media literacy into the elementary, secondary and university curriculum becomes stronger and more important.


Grace, D.J. (2005). Media Literacy: What, Why, and How?. Educational Perspectives, 38(2), 5-8. Retrieved February 29, 2020 from .

This record was imported from ERIC on April 19, 2013. [Original Record]

ERIC is sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) of the U.S. Department of Education.

Copyright for this record is held by the content creator. For more details see ERIC's copyright policy.


Cited By

View References & Citations Map

These links are based on references which have been extracted automatically and may have some errors. If you see a mistake, please contact