By the age of 18, almost 90% of young adults regularly get their news from Facebook and other social media, according to a study by the Media Insight Project. That can’t surprise anyone, but it makes me a little nervous, especially given the dominance of false news. How can we process the vast amount of information flashed at us to make steady decisions about local affairs, insurance choices, personal finances…elections? How do young people figure out what’s true and what’s not? What to worry about and what to let slide?
To make considered opinions, it is important to read widely and then reflect. A passing glance at a phone is not enough to keep someone informed. If a young person struggles to read—or is a reluctant reader—all the more reason to believe that he or she is unable to fully participate in the decisions that determine our lives.
And that doesn’t begin to address the anxiety young folks feel in a complex world. No matter what your response to recent elections, there is no avoiding the fact that Americans are stressed. The cycle was brutal and persistent, and, as we recognize with deep concern, divisive.
It made me think about so many young people across the globe who feel hopeless, scared, un-noticed each and every day. How would we know about their experience except by reading about them?
Where do we go to understand the implications of a change of government, to find a new way of looking at the world, to seek comfort in the evidence that the world goes on?
Not with a tweet, not with a post, rather with a news article, a story, a book. That is why we take our mission of full literacy for all adults so seriously…and you should, too.
Get a book in that kid’s hand.