Identity Online + Offline

Student’s identity development is being influenced by the media daily. This is even more true when it comes to online media outlets. Adolescents are particularly vulnerable as they are being impacted during their leisure time and lack the necessary guidance and insight to filter and critically assess the thousands of messages being communicated to them during their countless hours online. This contributes to a general vulnerability that adolescents face during this stage of development around the issue of identity formation. Adolescents are not only defining who they are offline, but how they portray themselves online as well, via social networking sites.

Engaging with digital media in a non-critical manner in the beginning stages of adolescence can have several impacts in regards to identity. Semali (2000) talks about texts, (to which we include images and video content), “that insist on the existing dominant interpretation or ideology, that explain why things are the way they are as if the status quo were simply natural. When texts with preferred meanings are read or viewed in this noncritical way, their interpretation or meaning tends to coincide with mystical beliefs, clichés, and stereotypical or hidden bias” (Semali, 2000, p. 38). Non-critical engagement with online text, imagery and video content can adversely impact student’s formation of identity in regards to race, ethnicity, body image, sexuality, gender and socio-economic status.

This critical media literacy curriculum aims to enhance students’ personal definition of identity and uncover the impact that economically-driven messages can have on self-concept, self-efficacy, goal setting and career objectives. Finally, students will critically analyze how their own personal identities may be unconsciously shaped by digital media and online socialization and provide them the tools to deconstruct all digital imagery and create a new, informed relationship with media as a technology as well as a cultural form.

Download Unit 1 Plan