Spring 2020 COM/SOC 315 created multimedia media literacy projects meant for sharing with social media networks.
Though civic engagement and community building have benefited tremendously from digital tools, information availability does not translate into knowledge and wisdom. When people evaluate the truthfulness of media information, they focus on characteristics consistent with their beliefs, demonstrating that skepticism toward new information takes effort. Correcting misinformation is difficult because misinformation can gain acceptance among like-minded people reflecting and internalizing the messages in their echo chambers. For example, political information online informs and affirms attitudes and actions; sameness silos attributed partly to social media algorithms, dangerously perpetuate rigid politics by personalization that reinforces rather than challenges views. Expanding representation and keeping a critical focus on the many ways that media remain a powerful, pervasive presence of socialization, learning, entertainment, and information in our lives is of utmost importance. The overarching goal of the final project was to provide an outlet for students to integrate scholarly research and theory/ies on a media effects topic in the spirit of media literacy and to provoke critical thought about simplistic portrayals and (mis)informative messages.
Empowering Teens in the Age of Instagram: An Exploration of the Negative Mental Health Effects of Instagram Engagement
By Alexa Green & Zoe Bock
In the tumultuous time of COVID-19, many people are increasing their social media use and experiencing heightened mental health symptoms. While we use technology in our everyday lives, we are often unaware of the psychological impacts of viewing social media posts. Previous literature about Facebook and MySpace indicates that social media promotes social comparison, resulting in negative self-concept, anxiety, and depressive symptoms. Nowadays, with its focus on idealized images, Instagram in particular is a site of this social comparison that can influence conceptions of the actual and ideal selves. While most Instagram literature studies adults, in this project, we aim to illuminate these negative mental health effects so as to educate adolescents, as they are highly impressionable. It is our hope that this project will make viewers more media literate, helping them to consume Instagram messages in a more self-reflexive exposure state.
Female Pleasure, Sexual Education & the Media
By Sofia Gonzalez Leal, Mariana Crespo, & Anisha Dhungana
Our study focuses on sex education discourses around female pleasure. We begin by analyzing the current sex education curricula focusing on formal and informal settings in sex education disseminations. We find that informal settings allow for a more comprehensive, pleasure-centered, and sex-positive understanding of sex education, while formal sexual education minimizes these conversations. Then we explore how individuals seek multiple forms of media and pornography as informal ways to understand sexual pleasure. These approaches complement formal avenues of sexual education by providing a more holistic understanding of pleasure. Specifically, we explore how TV shows, movies, and books show conflicting scripts about female pleasure and sexuality, and how there are systems in place that police female sexuality in the media. We also discuss how the female orgasm is constructed in pornography and its effects on young adults’ sexual experiences. Furthermore, we analyze the male gaze and the reclamation of these spaces by feminist pornographers. The research shows the importance of creating multimodal media messages that correctly represent female pleasure and sexuality for when people seek them out as forms of education. Furthermore, diversity in avenues of sex education discourses increases the agency of young adults to choose what content they intake and to mediate their sexual education. We have created a media literacy intervention aimed at young adults, in the form of an infographic and quiz that expose the gaps in sexual education, and the role of media in filling these gaps, showing that media must begin to use correct sexual scripts about female pleasure.
Internet Security and Senior Adults
By Jalen Jefferson & Saidah Rahman
This paper explores the issue of internet security and scams through their effects on older adults (65+). Through a brief review of relevant literature, we consider how other scholars have grappled with this topic. Providing examples of popular scams, we review tips and advice that professionals have for senior adults navigating the internet. Lastly, we cover the benefits and importance for seniors to have access to social media and internet sites, as it broadens their social network. Our multimedia project equips seniors with the necessary tools to safely navigate the internet and avoid the threat of hackers and internet scams.
U.S. Media Culture: A Breeding Ground for Serial Killers
By Danae Theocharaki
There is so much to be said about serial killers. From the psychological, to the forensic, to the cultural and societal aspect of these murderers, there is a lot that needs to be unpacked. There is even more to be said about the U.S. and its serial killers, as it is the highest-ranking country that has been struck by this ‘pandemic’. The United States of America, a country built on violence and destruction, a country obsessed over guns, pills and fame, is unfortunately so culturally embedded in the dark history that accompanies it, making it ultimately extremely hard to distinguish between reality and fake media, blurring the lines even further between normalcy and violence. A leading country in terms of mass media consumption with 24/7 news reporting, constant production of information, a globally famous entertainment industry, has cultivated a fondness, a romanticization, an anesthetization and a taste for violence.
Serial killers have played a crucial role in this genre as mass media strive their success on them. However, this constant production and distribution of fully detailed reports about serial killers’ life stories, crimes, inner aspects of their psyches, create a culture around them that enhances people’s familiarity and intimacy with this type of violence. By putting serial killers on a pedestal, mass media fail to recognize the lasting effects that this can have on society and especially on younger children who are in prime age to adopt behaviors and characteristic (Social Identity Theory & Cultivation Theory) that match those of serial killers, therefore creating and enhancing the violence that already exist in detrimental and devastating quantities, but also producing copy-cats and reenactors who wish to gain the fame that these serial killers have gotten in a hypertrophied America where celebrity status is above all else.
Mission Media Literacy: Educating Teens about News Media Literacy During the time of COVID-19
By Catie Goodell
Media literacy is not an entirely new concept; however, as our daily lives become more saturated with media content and infiltrates the way we think, act, and form opinions, its presence is more necessary than ever. The concern for media literacy is especially potent considering how late individuals are exposed to the very concept of media literacy. Most occurs in or after college when media habits are already formed and unalterable. The focus of this paper and accompanying project is a methodological approach to helping young teens develop good media habits and cognition of media literacy. Further, a lot of their self-discovery happens by mimicking what they see on the screens because it is what they believe to be true. As it relates to the news, the spread of misinformation on the individual and societal level is more prevalent, and teenagers understand this world as “normal,” without legitimately questioning how it effects themselves. Media literacy training and intervention programs for teenagers have successfully shown changes in attitudes and behaviors for teenagers. Now, in the time of uncertainty during this global pandemic and health crisis, the dissemination of information, whether misleading or true, needs to properly be assessed. So, who better than the future leaders?
Media Literacy for Gendered Toy Marketing
By Marion Comi-Morog
As children become an increasingly profitable market sector, an increasing number of toy companies and marketing professionals direct their advertisements to young audiences. However, while a toy advertisement may appear to be merely selling a doll or a monster truck, it is also selling its young viewers on gender ideologies and stereotypes. Exposure to the traditionalist gender stereotypes portrayed in toy campaigns has been shown to negatively affect children’s developing expectations and abilities, and by extension, gender divisions in later adulthood. Media literacy must therefore be encouraged in children to combat the negative effects of gendered toy marketing. Through engaging music videos, I introduce foundational concepts in media literacy and the harms of gendered toy marketing in order to facilitate discussion between parent and child on these topics.
Coronavirus and Third Person Media Effects
By Natalie Naticchia
Third-person media effect is the idea that “people tend to believe that media messages have a greater effect on others than on themselves” (Oliver, Raney, Bryant 20). This phenomenon is seen every single day while people neglect to abide by social distancing guidelines. Why do some people think that they are above the virus, and that what they see on the media, will not impact them? This implication of media effects has real time, and real life consequences, contributing to the rampant spread of the virus. The scholarly journal articles explore how mass media is an important source of health information for the general public, and the ties this has to third-person media effects. The most common method of collecting information included surveys, and personal interviews, to understand a specific individual viewpoint. With coronavirus being a new pandemic, there is yet to be specific research in its relation to third person media effects. Although, patterns collected from other pandemics, such as the H1N1 swine flu, provide a lens into how the general public is reacting to the coronavirus pandemic. Understanding how people learn information, process information, and then act depending on what they believe to be true is crucial in understanding a high risk, highly contagious virus. Moral human behavior and the expectation that they follow social distancing guidelines is the only cure as of now. Unfortunately, due to the phenomenon of third-person effect, the urge to stop the spread is not as high as it should be.
Sports Journalism & Racial Generalizations: The Overrepresentation of Athletes Depicted in Stereotypical Frameworks within Sports Media
By Jacob D. Myers
Sports broadcasters and journalists are historically guilty for using very descriptive terms when referencing athletes of different racial backgrounds. These racial generalizations derive from stereotypes presented within the media, as sports announcers, who typically identify as white-males, present athletes of different racial and ethnic backgrounds through contradictory frameworks. Athletes are disproportionately presented and characterized in potentially unfavorable manners, causing shifts in one’s social identity, thus directly influencing intergroup dynamics. While ESPN and other sports broadcasting channels have attempted to attain proportional racial demographics on camera, racial generalizations are still prevalent within sports media, invoking concern on the potential implications it is having on media consumers.
The Influence of Mass Media on Women’s Body Image
By Sarah Konstans
In our mass media, there is an obvious issue and even bias when it comes to portraying women’s body image on television ads, Instagram, etc. The mass media uses this platform to portray women in this unrealistic light as it concerns the way they look. This is something that is extremely prevalent in our society and even a hot button topic when it comes to talking about women’s body image issues.
“Fitspiration” and Body Image in Adolescent Females
By Nellie Turnage
Adolescent girls are at an increased risk of developing eating disorders because of the nature of their psychological development during the teenage years. These girls also frequent social media platforms such as Instagram which exposes them to the widely circulated “thinspiration,” “fitspiration,” and “pro-ana” trends. Fitspiration, which depicts exercise activities, typically accompanied by quotes and muscular, thin-ideal imagery, is a movement that is especially a cause for concern. Studies have found that by displaying extreme exercise tendencies and presenting “attractiveness” as the goal of fitness, fitspiration posts enact Social Cognitive Theory processes, which motivate the viewer to engage in a modeled behavior. This is dangerous as it pushes girls to partake in under-eating and over-exercising, which is a combination that can significantly harm their bodies and even result in death. Therefore, given the inevitability that adolescent girls will view fitspiration posts, it is essential that they are taught to consume such images with a critical lens. Additionally, it is particularly important that girls are habituated into media literacy from a very young age, so that they are fully equipped to navigate social media and protect their mental health through the vulnerable teenage years.
The original “fitspiration” images:
Infographic #1: The Flow Chart
Infographic #2: Information About Exercise
Racial Bias in Sports Media Framing: How It Affects You
By James Reilly
The study of sports media’s perpetuation of racial stereotypes through targeted language has been widespread throughout communications and race studies for years. The evidence of this can be seen on NFL telecasts, in sports news media, and even in how criminal athletes are described and characterized. It has been shown that long-term consumption of this media can have a cultivation effect on viewers, who can adopt the racial biases found in sports media and have them reinforced by their real-life experiences through confirmation bias. However, these types of targeted media stereotypes don’t only have long-term effects; the framing of news stories can affect public opinion on hot-button sports topics in the short-term and can result in more unfavorable outcomes for black athletes than white. Therefore, it is essential that individuals increase their media literacy in order to identify when racial stereotypes are affecting the framing of a story so that they can divest their opinions from the ones encouraged by media frames and even call out the media for its (sometimes unintentional) perpetuation of racial bias.