A new bill in New Jersey would require schools to teach students media literacy in order to distinguish between fact and fiction.

Under a bipartisan bill that passed the state Legislature overwhelmingly and now awaits Gov. Phil Murphy’s signature, New Jersey schools would be required to teach media literacy to students of all grade levels — how to decipher fact from disinformation as they absorb content on social media.

The bill won the support of the state’s Senate with a vote of 36-0 and the Assembly by a 61-8 margin.

“Consider our daily use of mobile phones, the internet, and social media, not to mention our evolving information practices in schools, workplaces, businesses and organizations,” said Catherine Baird, an academic librarian at Montclair State University.  “It’s important to be aware of and reflect upon all of our intersecting and overlapping information worlds and to explicitly teach information literacy at all levels of education.”

Teaching information and media literacy to students from a young age will prepare them for a smoother and easier transition into college, Baird said. “I anticipate that It will make it easier for those of us teaching information literacy in higher education to align our efforts with our high school partners,” she added.

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