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New Media Environment:- Assessing the Strengths; Weakness; Opporutnities and Threats (SWOT) for positive living.

Delivered by Mr Oba Laaro of the Dept. of Mass Communication, University of Ilorin

New Media Environment’s Strengths; -- are HIM=hypertextuality, Interactivity and multimodality; participatory culture, anonymity of user-participants.

Weakness

  1. Challenges of regulation---formal regulation by govt through control and censorship,
  2. Ethical lapses that come from being free;
  3. information processing challenges --misinformation, disinformation, information overload and information underload.

Opportunities: from a consumer to becoming a citizen, participant, producers, creators of messages, services and products; increasing role of citizen especially youths in the social, economic and democratic development of the country. Exposure to lots of information, Anonymity of user which provide opportunities for freedom of expression in a repressive contexts. Identity formation-- by adopting different names, writing styles, images for their digital “selves.

Threats

  1. exposure to cybercrime,- criminal activities ranging from violations  of privacy and personality rights to child pornography, human trafficking, drugs and other organized crime.
  2. Ethical issues:- ethical online concerns range from publishing factual falsities, bias and spreading gossip and rumours to blackmail, harassment and intimidation, defamatory and inflammatory remarks, hate speech and incitement to violence or even genocide;
  3. skill challenges --new media literacies which is ability to use computer and internet based technology; being critical and  evaluative of information and being ethical;
  4. Digital divides, the  inability to own and access digital technology due to social and economic constraints;
  5. second level digital divide—usage differences.

Online Positive living: - refer to exhibiting attitude and behaviour in online environment in a way that lead the individual to maximise opportunities and minimise risks (threats) to the individual and to the community at large. It may include inculcating, adopting and strong commitment to the religious and communal values as personal philosophy; pro social behaviour, that’s, using the new media for social and development purposes, and effective reputation management online.

FIVE KEY ISSUES IN NEW MEDIA (IPOACP)

  • IDENTITY MANAGEMENT;
  • PRIVACY,
  • OWNERSHIP,
  • AUTHORSHIP,
  • CREDIBILITY;
  • PARTICIPATION.

NOTE: The modern means of dealing with the media saturated environment is by providing opportunities for the citizens, particularly the youths, to acquire media literacy skills. The following excerpts provides insights into what is meant by media literacy
 
“Media literacy provides a framework and the skills that enable individuals to access information, analyse it in a critical and structured way, e.g. against one’s ethical, moral and/or democratic principles, evaluate it on the basis of that analysis, and ultimately to produce messages using a variety of tools. Information and media literacy help to understand the role of information and media and build essential skills of inquiry and self-expression necessary for citizens to understand and participate in a society……. media literacy activates the online responsibility of the individual by encouraging critical thinking, reflection, and ethical behaviour, which are invaluable for detecting bias of all sorts, falsities, and defamation, and for exposing incitement and hate speech. Individuals learn to evaluate sources, authenticate information and check for accuracy. They learn to distinguish between reality and fantasy, contextualize information, to discover and define agendas. It encourages users to become active and create the transparency (where it is not provided) necessary to expose dangerous partisanship, conflicts of interest, and ulterior motives”.

SO be CRITICAL by doing source checking across different platforms, be SCEPTICAL of information, but NOT a CYNIC, be an AVID READER.

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