Media Literacy and Nigerian Youth

By Egbo Amarachi C

We live in a world where the quality of information we receive largely determines our choices and actions. The radio plays in the car, the TV blares in the house, the phone ring in car and in the house, the computer delivers email and instant messages. Text messages beep on a handheld device. Our modern world really allows quiet. Our society rushes from one thing to the next thereby hindering our capacity to enjoy fundamental freedoms and the ability for self determination and development, all in the name of media and its influence. For many people stillness and quietness don't happen until they fall asleep.

 In as much as people need to follow up and keep abreast of their environments, people should not as well be dumb and naïve, in grabbing and making whatever information they see and receive from the media hook line and sinker. That is why we need media literacy to be guided to be able to critically access, analyze and evaluate media messages.

 We then ask "what is media literacy?. It is the ability for one to access, critically analyze and evaluate media messages and thereby not allowing it to control one.

It is also a process of developing critical thinking that allows one see things clearly.

Therefore, to be media literate means that one controls the interpretation of the media instead of the media controlling one.

The society and the youth need media literacy because of the high rate of media consumption and the saturation of the society by the media. The media is every where, even little children are not exempted from the power and saturations of media, at every juncture of life the media is there beckoning people's attention with its numerous and captivating activities be it through the internet, with its windows like Whatsapp, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube etc then the Television, Radio, Magazines, Newspapers, Bill boards, films and so on.

Youths need to be guided to critically look at the media because of its power and influence on shaping perceptions, belief and attitude.

 Information is key, that cannot be over emphasize. People need to aware of their environment but at the same time, should not be carried away by the channels of those information. That is why the five key questions of Media Literacy Project and core concepts come very handy for the youth and anybody who wants to distinguish himself in critically analyzing the media.

 While making use of the Media, one should be able to ask key questions like;

 who created this message?

It is very clear that all media messages are constructed. It may be by an individual or a group of people.

 What techniques are used to attract my attention?

These messages are constructed using creative language with its own rules. The youths should know that author are entitled to use any language to express themselves. That is the power of diction.

  How might different people understand this message differently from me.

We are very unique individuals, thinking differently, behaving and acting differently. So individuals experience the same message.

 What lifestyles, values and points of views are represented or omitted from this message.

It still remains that Media have embedded values and points of view. Media have values which ranges from educational to entertainment values. The essence of the values is to inform, educate and reinforce already existing values in the society and through entertainment create relaxation for individuals and families.

But unfortunately, youths get hooked up by the vices portrayed in movies like robbery, alcohol, cultism, rape, indecent dressing, violence, vulgar language etc.

 Why was this message sent?

Media messages from all indication are constructed to gain profit and power. Most people acting are already made. They have gained profit, they have also gained popularity. Youths should also aspire to be known through hard work and not getting hooked up by the vices in the media, by critically accessing, analyzing and evaluating media messages. A wise youth makes use of every opportunity.