SACRAMENTO – A bill from Senator Bill Dodd, D-Napa, to add media literacy education to school curriculums and ensure students have the tools to succeed in the digital age was approved by the full Senate Wednesday.
“The rise of fake and misleading news is deeply concerning,” Senator Dodd said. “Even more concerning is the lack of education provided to ensure people can distinguish between fact and fiction. This bill will help reverse that disturbing trend and give young people the tools to see through the falsehoods and make informed opinions about their world.”
A 2016 Stanford study found that 82 percent of middle school students struggled to distinguish advertisements from news stories. The same study also found a significant percentage of high school and college students scored poorly in media literacy evaluations, and concluded, “Our ‘digital natives’ may be able to flit between Facebook and Twitter while simultaneously uploading a selfie to Instagram and texting a friend. But when it comes to evaluating information that flows through social media channels, they are easily duped.”
“This bill is about empowering students to make informed decisions,” Dodd said. “And frankly, it’s about safeguarding the future of our democracy.”
The prevalence of fake news garnered national attention in the 2016 election, where in the final months of the presidential campaign, false and misleading stories from hoax websites outperformed actual news stories in terms of social media engagement.
Adolescents can spend up to nine hours a day absorbing media from these various sources, and this flood of information can make it difficult for the public to differentiate between reputable news sources and false or misleading claims.
Senate Bill 830, which is coauthored by a bipartisan group of legislators, would empower the California Board of Education’s Instructional Quality Commission to develop a model framework necessary for incorporating media literacy into school curriculums. The legislation will also provide media literacy training opportunities for teachers in California.
Senator Bill Dodd represents California’s 3rd Senate District, which includes all or portions of Napa, Sonoma, Solano, Yolo, Sacramento, and Contra Costa counties. You can learn more about Senator Dodd at www.sen.ca.gov/dodd.