I'm writing to urge you to support HB 492, the Media Literacy and Critical Thinking Act.
Nowadays, our students' lives are shaped by social media algorithms that profit from outrage, complicated by sneaky stereotypes, and even hijacked by foreign misinformation campaigns. Too often, when we use media tools — from Tiktok to TV — we end up being used by them.
It's time to move beyond simple "digital citizenship" classes and help students learn to independently navigate the digital world. This bill would require 5-7 Missouri schools to pilot media literacy curricula from 2024-26, including topics like:
- cyberbullying prevention & cyber safety practices
- protections for freedom of speech online
- skills for independently evaluating messages on online platforms
- the significance of algorithms
- the economic structure of the digital landscape
These are essential media literacy skills. Media literacy education will equip our youngest citizens with a politically-neutral toolkit so that they can form opinions and make choices without undue influence. By learning to spot red flags, seek out primary sources, and ask questions about the possible biases of sources, Missouri's next generation will grow up to be independent consumers of citizens, and informed future voters for the 21st century.