California commits to teaching "media literacy" in public classrooms

Sacramento, California - Beginning next year, California's public school students will be required to take media literacy courses that will help them identify fake news posted online while also being able to tell the difference between legitimate news articles and paid advertising.

California public school students will soon be required to take media literacy courses.
California public school students will soon be required to take media literacy courses.  © IMAGO / Panthermedia

The new instruction will slowly be integrated into the curriculum of students from kindergarten through high school under Assembly Bill 873, authored by Assemblymember Marc Berman, a Democrat from Menlo Park, and signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom in October.

Media literacy content will be included in English language arts, mathematics, science, history, and social science curriculums.

The law was necessitated by young people's growing reliance on the internet and social media platforms, such as TikTok, Instagram, and X, for news and information, Berman said.

Texas, New Jersey, and Delaware have also passed strong media literacy laws, according to Media Literacy Now, a nonprofit research organization.

Media literacy necessary to recognize misinformation

"Teaching media literacy is a key strategy to support our children, their families, and our society that are inundated with misinformation and disinformation on social media networks and digital platforms," said Berman. "We have a responsibility to teach the next generation to be more critical consumers of online content and more guarded against misinformation, propaganda, and conspiracy theories."

State leaders have a "strong interest," the new legislation says, in ensuring young Californians are equipped to properly confront the misinformation found on digital platforms, as the reach and influence of these platforms are only expected to increase in the future.

"As we've seen too often in the last decade, what happens online can have the most terrifying of real-world impacts," Berman said. "From climate denial to vaccine conspiracy theories to the January 6 attack on our nation's Capitol, the spread of online misinformation has had global and deadly consequences."

Cover photo: IMAGO / Panthermedia

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