Cedar Crest College Helps Shed Light on Media Literacy

Cedar Crest College celebrated Media Literacy Week, an annual observance of media culture and its effect on consumers, through a week-long series of events that included an opportunity for young girls to learn about media messages and internet safety.

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Allentown, PA (PRWEB) November 17, 2013

The average person sees more than 3,000 marketing messages a day and the importance of teaching students to think critically about those messages is more important than ever. What images are out there? What is being communicated? What do these messages say about society? Cedar Crest College celebrated Media Literacy Week, an annual observance of media culture and its effect on consumers, through a week-long series of events that included an opportunity for young girls to learn about media messages and internet safety.

Throughout the week, students had the opportunity to participate in discussions, watch films focused on media culture and help educate young girls on the potential dangers of social media. And as a women’s college, the topic of women in the media was at the forefront of many conversations.

“Media literacy is about creating a culture of thoughtful critique around the media messages that surround us daily,” said Assistant Professor of Communication, Elizabeth Ortiz. “We rarely take the time to think about what all of this media consumption is doing to us.”

Ortiz is dedicated to educating both her Cedar Crest students, as well as, the kids from Boys and Girls Club of Allentown, where she currently serves as Chief Volunteer Officer. On Tuesday, Nov. 5, a dozen girls from the Boys and Girls Club visited the College to learn about the representation of girls and women and the ever-growing importance of safety when using the internet.

“Important issues with this age group [8-12] are self-esteem, school performance, and online safety among others. All of these issues are tied to media,” Ortiz said. “We spent the day talking about how messages are created for the purpose of selling something and that someone is making money off of us consuming these messages.”

How do children and parents protect themselves against the dangers of the internet? Ortiz’s advice for children is to never post anything they wouldn’t want their grandmother to see and for them to understand that the internet is forever. Once items are posted, even deleting them doesn’t make it impossible for others to find. She also urges children to talk to an adult if they feel unsafe or think a friend is entering dangerous territory online or off. Ortiz added that it’s best for parents to have access to their children’s social media accounts. The younger their children are, the more important it is to monitor their internet use and protect them from others who may contact them with ulterior motives.

Ortiz first brought Media Literacy Week to Cedar Crest in 2011. While the communication program at Cedar Crest has always focused on media studies and has added a new media major, Ortiz said that she wanted to provide a formal setting for this discussion outside of the classroom since media affects everyone.

Located in Allentown, Pa., Cedar Crest College was selected as a “Top Regional College” and “Best Value” in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges rankings for 2012, 2013 and 2014. The liberal arts college is committed to the education of women leaders in an increasingly global society. Founded in 1867, Cedar Crest currently enrolls approximately 1,400 students—full-time, part-time and graduate—in more than 30 fields of study.


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