A Friday Morning #medialiteracy lesson

A few weeks ago, I was looking for a new car seat for my four-year-old daughter and sent a tweet to Babies R Us to ask about a promotion I saw on their web site.

 I hadn't received a response until I saw a Twitter notification for this mention today.

Even half-asleep at 5:04am, I could tell that there were some serious issues with this tweet. That got me thinking: what a great way to talk about media literacy with students!  We've all seen tweets like this before.  Why not take a quick screenshot, throw it on the projector, and have students talk with a shoulder partner about all the ways they can tell this tweet is spam. I would give them something like this:

After taking a few minutes to analyze and discuss this notification and Twitter profile, we could come back together as a class and share out reactions and takeaways.  Some of the biggest red flags students are likely to identify include:

  • The tweet didn't come from a verified account.  Wouldn't a major retail chain like Babies R Us be verified?
  • Why direct us to a link in their bio? Tweets can include links. 
  • The link doesn't point to the Babies R Us website, but a blogspot blog.
  • They have a very small number of followers for a major retailer outlet.
  • The store logo isn't present in the profile picture. 
  • Why would a store give 75% off everything? 
This could be followed by a short conversation about spam accounts students have run into online and the importance of not clicking on spam links that kids see online.  This short lesson could even be the introduction to a larger lesson or unit about research, digital citizenship, and the validity of online resources. 

The entire lesson would likely take no more than 15 minutes, but think about the value and real-world application of this short lesson. Our students, their parents, and, yes, even us educators, are inundated with media.  We constantly have to evaluate social media to determine its validity, and my very true story from this morning is a perfect example of why its the job of all educators to be advocates for media literacy. 

How do you teach media literacy in your class?  What other issues would you point out to your students about the Twitter account above? Sound off in the comments below to share your ideas, lessons, and stories!

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