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Research Question

Media literacy is the skill to critically analyze information that is consumed from social media or other online sources. Because of rapid technological advancements, social media is heavily ingrained in people’s everyday lives and consumes a lot of its users’ time and attention. This allows users to have access to all kinds of information, making this type of literacy crucial. However this skill is rarely taught, despite the evident need for conscious information consumption. Current research on this topic focuses on how media literacy should be taught in schools for children and teenagers. Upon analyzing current research, it seems that the youth that have grown up alongside with the development of technology is the most knowledgeable about how to use it, and how to interact with technology and social media. It is the adults who have had to adapt to technology and integrate social media into their lives in a short time span that need to learn media literacy the most. The research conducted in this study is to understand how to use efficient communication strategies accounting for social and cognitive determinants behind massive digital misinformation to account for current perceptions of social media as an information source and inform future discourse.

Analysis

Just over half of the participants of this study were in the age range of 25-34, and the remainder were 18-24 years old. Nearly three quarters of the participants identified as women, the remainder identified as men. 53.5% of participants stated that they use social media 2-4 hours each day. 92.3% of participants rated instagram as their most used social media application. Facebook was the second most used social media application in this study. 61.5% of participants stated that they gain worldly information and news from social media as opposed to other media or sources. And 69.2% of participants state that they both actively search for news information and that it also shows up on their social media feeds. 90% of participants found that the content that made up their news feeds is similar to their own personal beliefs, and that the majority of the users they follow or friend on social media share the same personal beliefs, political views, and interests. Facebook was ranked as the top social media platform that includes most information and content about political beliefs for 38% of participants, with Instagram being a close second with 30%. Instagram was ranked as the top social media platform to find the most information or content about hobbies, interests, and activities for 69% of participants. 61% of participants pass on information they find interesting from social media by re-sharing it on the platform or relaying the same information in conversation. 77% of participants said that they rarely or never look for other supporting sources or other perspectives of the information they share and find interesting from social media.

Emma Vaz is a fourth year student at Ryerson University, studying Professional Communications. This program is a part of the school's Faculty of Communications and Design, which is the heart of Canada’s media, design and creative industries. Emma currently works in the healthcare field in administration for Lakeridge Healthcare’s Emergency department. Since the COVID-19 epidemic Emma has truly been tested in her skills of problem solving in crisis situations such as creating risk management plans within her department, also dealing with health and safety planning during the N95 masks and PPE shortages. After graduation Emma had planned to change her career path into the creative industries but will continue in healthcare for the time being while we are dealing with this pandemic. She hopes to start contract work in communications, public relations, and social media management when life returns to normality. Being in a frontline worker in an emergency department during this pandemic has been more constructive and educational than any capstone project.