Do Media Literacies Help or Hinder Millennials ?

The misconceptions about the Millennial generation, or digital natives, is that we lack work ethic, are impatient, self-centered, impulsive, and have everything easy and accessible among other things.

However, people do see millennials in a positive light as well, describing them to be more accepting of diversity than past generations, are capable of handling complex and advanced communication and technologies, have more precise problem-solving skills, have better collaboration skills as well as fresher perspectives on things than people of older generations (3). Despite the negative things people say about millennials, with the help of media literacies and technology and a younger, more refreshing perspective on the world, millennials have all the potential to be even more productive and organized than the older people in the workplace.

The defining characteristic that distinguishes millennials from anybody else is that we were the first generation to be immersed in the Information Communication Technology (ICT) that will last for the rest of our lives. Therefore, digital natives are fluent in the language of technology and using this technology in many innovative ways (1). This technology, also referred to as media literacies, which have been defined as the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and effectively communicate in a variety of forms that include print and nonprint texts is very beneficial to how young people learn and become informed citizens. Although, media literacies do not mean soley learning with or through technology, it is essential that media literacy teaches about media itself, as well as the the language, codes and conventions it uses along with its narrative (1). The importance of learning through media is important to practice two reasons: the first being students who can analyze and understand the meaning of printed texts may not find it as easy to understand sound, images or multimedia texts; and secondly the fact that students have different strengths, the usage of sounds and images encourage them to go beyond their comfort zones of printed texts (1). Media literacies do far more than just emphasize analyzing and and evaluating media texts, but also focuses on media audiences and seeing young people as consumers and creators of media messages. This concept is very important because millennials are accustomed to living and working in a multimedia environment (1). Media literacies also recognizes the pleasure derived from from media texts beyond academic environments and highly values the exposure it gives to popular culture which plays an important aspect in young individuals’ identities (1).

Now that the importance and benefits of media literacies have been examined, we now must examine the downfalls of digital natives in the workplace. Although digital natives are more effective in areas like multitasking, filtering information, and responding to visual stimulation, they are less masterful at face-to-face interaction and deciphering nonverbal cues (2). Millennials’ brains have been hard wired by technology and media literacies which makes it hard to interact with the world without that technology. In other words, digital natives have become extremely comfortable with all the technological gadgets, therefore they lack the experience of delivering engaging presentations without the help of technologically enhanced visual cues (2). Millennials believe that everything can be readily found on the Internet, without being aware of the accuracy and validity. Consequently, this causes a lack of motivation to seek more nuanced answers. Taking all of this into consideration, millennials have been significantly shaped by the Internet, full of different vocabularies, resources, and forms/patterns of communication (2).

It is evident that millennials have all the tools and resources to prove how productive they can be in the workforce, but these tools are still controversial in how effective they truly are in being efficient. We can see how media literacies benefit the youth in becoming well informed citizens and and playing an important role in establishing young people’s identities. Learning through media helps young minds get out of their comfort zones, and become dynamic students in learning not only with printed texts, but multimedia texts and images. Media literacies also emphasize individuals being the creators and consumers of media as well as providing exposure to popular culture and current events. In contrast, because millennials have been programmed to by technology and the Internet, it can cause individuals to lose sight of how things were done before the age of technology. Also, it can result in a lack of experience and motivation to complete tasks without the help of media literacies, in addition to a reluctance to step outside the box to find the answer. It has been said that, “if millennials are going to become valued knowledge workers, they must learn not only what information to gather, but also how to verify and understand it in context. In order to analyze, synthesize, and represent that information in a way that is relevant to the problem at hand, they will need to know more than how to scan; they need to learn to read deeply and between the lines. To do so, they will have to draw on history, books, education, and the theoretical grounding and experience base that older generations can provide” (2). According to this above quote, millennials must learn to problem solve with old-school tools and go back to the books in order to be valuable and knowledgeable employees. Subsequently it has also been said that, “as technological devices, web-based search capacities and web enabled mashups continue to evolve, millennials, as early adapters of emerging technologies, may have an advantage in instinctively understanding and building upon their potential applications” (2). After hearing both quotes, it could go positively or negatively for digital natives in the professional world, I believe it all depends on the balance of knowing how to do things according to today’s age and how people used to do things in previous generations.


(1) Considine, David, Julie Horton, and Gary Moorman. “Teaching and Reading the Millennial Generation through Media Literacy.” Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy 52, no. 6 (2009): 471-81.

(2) Hershatter, Andrea, and Molly Epstein. “Millennials and the World of Work: An Organization and Management Perspective.” Journal of Business and Psychology 25, no. 2 (2010): 211-23.

(3) Myers, Karen K., and Kamyab Sadaghiani. “Millennials in the Workplace: A Communication Perspective on Millennials’ Organizational Relationships and Performance.” Journal of Business and Psychology 25, no. 2 (2010): 225-38.