SACRAMENTO – Today the Assembly unanimously passed AB 873, which would integrate media literacy instruction into the core subjects for all students from kindergarten through 12th grade. In light of young people’s growing reliance on the internet and social media to consume news, AB 873 will prepare all K-12 students in California to be competent and critical media consumers and creators.
“Children today are being inundated by misinformation and disinformation on social media networks and digital platforms,” said Assemblymember Marc Berman. “The last few years have been a terrifying wake-up call to the insidious nature of online misinformation, from jeopardizing public health, to threatening the foundation of our democracy, to dangerously rewriting history. Anyone who spends much time on social media could greatly benefit from media literacy training. While I can’t force adults to go back to school, we have the chance right now to teach the next generation to ask themselves: who wrote this, why did they write it, and what is the impact of sharing it? Media literacy instruction is absolutely essential to keeping our students safer online and to safeguarding the future of our democracy.”
“This bill is an important step to help ensure young people are equipped with the relevant media and informational literacy skills so critical in the 21st century. As a proud youth-cosponsor of this legislation, GENup welcomes the bill’s passage through the Assembly and looks forward to continuing to advocate for the bill’s passage in the Senate and onto the Governor’s desk,” said Nicholas Harvey, K-12 Policy Director for Generation Up.
AB 873 directs the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) to incorporate media literacy content into the English language arts/English language development, science, mathematics, and history-social science curriculum frameworks when those frameworks are next revised. Media literacy, also known as information literacy, develops students’ critical thinking skills around all types of media and teaches students to evaluate online information that affects them, their communities, and the world. It includes digital citizenship, which is a diverse set of skills related to current technology and social media, including the norms of appropriate, responsible, and healthy behavior. It also includes teaching students how to create media thoughtfully and conscientiously. A growing number of states are now requiring that students receive instruction in media and information literacy, including New Jersey, Illinois, and Delaware.
A 2022 Pew Research Report found that the share of teens who say they use the internet about once a day or more has grown since 2014-15. Today, 97% of teens say they use the internet daily, compared with 92% of teens in 2014-15 who said the same. Social media use has also grown for younger kids. Another report found that about half of parents of children ages 10 to 12 and 32% of parents of kids ages 7 to 9 reported their child used social media apps in 2021.
A 2019 Stanford University study gauged students’ ability to evaluate digital sources on the open internet. 96 percent of high school students surveyed failed to consider that ties to the fossil fuel industry might affect the credibility of a website about climate change, while more than half believed a grainy video that claimed to show ballot stuffing (which was actually shot in Russia) constituted “strong evidence” of voter fraud in the United States. Another study found that 82 percent of middle school students struggled to distinguish advertisements from news stories. According to a 2022 report by the United Nations, 17% of public TikTok content related to the Holocaust either denied or distorted it. The same was true of almost 1 in 5 Holocaust-related Twitter posts and 49% of Holocaust content on Telegram. The report highlighted how much more remains to be done to strengthen global resilience to disinformation.
AB 873 is supported by the Los Angeles County Office of Education, Common Sense Media, the California News Publishers Association, and Media Literacy Now, among others. The bill will be heard in the Senate Education Committee next.