California mandates media literacy in K-12 curriculum to combat misinformation

The new law targets empowering students to critically analyze online content amidst nationwide concerns about media distrust.

Multiracial group of school kids using touchpads and listening to a teacher during computer class.

To tackle the surge of misinformation, California has passed Assembly Bill 873, compelling K-12 schools to incorporate media literacy into subjects like English language arts, science, math, and history-social studies. Effective January 1, 2024, the law aims to empower students to discern fake news and think critically about online content, reflecting a nationwide effort to address growing distrust in the media, particularly among young people.

While the legislation lacks certain features, such as teacher training funding, an advisory committee, and monitoring mechanisms, proponents emphasize its immediate importance, highlighting the need for students to navigate the digital landscape adeptly.

Why does it matter?

The 2016 US election served as a wake-up call to the potential risks and dangers fake news poses. A Pew survey highlights the implications of this alarming trend: adults under 30 trust social media nearly as much as national news outlets. A mere 7% of adults exhibit ‘a great deal’ of trust in the media, according to a disconcerting Gallup poll conducted last year. California is not on its own in this endeavor. Media Literacy Now, an advocacy group for K-12 media literacy, notes that Texas, New Jersey, and Delaware, along with several other states, have either enacted or are developing robust media literacy laws.