Research — Journal
How Media Literacy Supports Civic Engagement in a Digital Age
Young people are making active use of the Internet in ways that may or may not contribute to civic engagement. While some scholars believe civic engagement arises naturally from digital media use, others believe that media literacy education is needed to provide the cognitive and social scaffolding that systematically supports civic engagement. Research with a sample of 400 American high school students explores the relationship between participation in a media literacy program, academic ability, frequency of Internet use, information-gathering motives, news and advertising analysis skills, and the intention towards civic engagement. Findings show that students in a selective-admission media literacy program have substantially higher levels of media knowledge, news analysis and advertising analysis skill than other students. Participation in a media literacy program was positively associated with information-seeking motives, media knowledge, and news analysis skills. Moreover, information-seeking motives, media knowledge, and news analysis skills independently contributed to adolescents’ intent toward civic engagement.