The Philadelphia Inquirer
While the Internet has increased access to information and has often been a force for good, it has also contributed to making many people misinformed, uninformed and even radicalized.
That's why it is welcome news to see New Jersey become the first state in the country to require schools to teach media literacy to K-12 students. Other states, including Pennsylvania, should follow the Garden State's lead.
Students raised on mobile phones have a world of information--and disinformation--at their fingertips. Studies show many teens get their news from TikTok, Instagram and YouTube, barely regulated spaces where almost anything goes. That is all the more reason why it's essential for schools to teach students how to discern fact from fiction.
Alexander Pope, the 18th-century poet and satirist, famously wrote that "a little learning is a dangerous thing." That danger turned all too real when an angry mob of Donald Trump supporters staged a deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, fueled by misinformation that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.
It is not just political misinformation that is dumbing down America. The pandemic fueled a range of conspiracies and an assault on science. Much of the misinformation was spread through social media and "news" outlets that put profits above the truth.
The peril goes way beyond any political divide. Society can't function well, or tackle critical issues such as climate change, when half the public is armed with facts and the other half traffics in lies and conspiracies.