The COVID-19 infodemic among young people and adults: The support of critical media literacy
Keywords:Media literacy, critical media skills, infodemic, media wellbeing, media trust, COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has flooded the public sphere with large amounts of information, engendering what some specialists have dubbed the infodemic. Among the mechanisms used to mitigate the effects of the infodemic, critical media literacy has proven a valuable approach. This study aimed to analyze the critical media skills (CMS) of young people and adults in relation to the variables of infodemic awareness (IPA), infodemic and wellbeing (ISW), emotional reaction (ERI), and media trust (MTC). A cross-sectional online study with 404 participants (Mage=32.8) was conducted in two virtual communities in Mexico during the first semester of 2021. Descriptive analysis revealed highly critical media skills in participants. Adults showed high levels of IPA, while young people presented high levels of ISW, ERI, and MTC. Observations by the age group indicated an association between CMS and ISW, and CMS and MCT, while the association between CMS and IPA was null. The COVID-19 outbreak has intensified the consumption of digital media and access to untrustworthy information. Critical media literacy may protect individuals from the risks of infodemic by enhancing critical roles and attitudes toward media discourse. This study supports the recommendation to promote media literacy initiatives that inoculate critical media skills as mechanisms to counteract the misinformation in health crises.