By John Pellegrino
Kapolei resident Erinn Abragar believes there’s a great need for media literacy education within schools across Hawaii and she’s doing something about it.
Abragar serves as nonprofit Media Literacy Now’s Hawaii Chapter Leader and aims toinspire change throughout the state through public awareness campaigns, policymaker education, research, coalition building and efforts to influence regulations and legislation.
Abragar is working to build support for Sen. Mike Gabbard’s bipartisan Senate bill 362, which would assist teachers by focusing the state’s resources on identifying barriers to incorporating media literacy curriculum into classrooms and considering solutions to those obstacles.
She has always been interested in media literacy and her 15-year-old son and the global pandemic inspired her to get involved.
“My son is one of the reasons why I wanted to get involved in media literacy advocacy and teaching media literacy,” she said.” I know a lot about different social media platforms and trends because of my son and I see how technology and media can be great and horrible at the same time. I want my son and all students to have the ability to use media and create content mindfully and responsibly, and be able to analyze content on media and know how media can influence their thoughts and actions.”
Abragar adds that the shift to full distance learning within schools and businesses adapting to new online platforms and technologies makes the need for media literacy education more critical than ever.
“My work is still in its infancy and I’ve only just begun to plant the seeds for media literacy in Hawaii,” she said. “I’m having conversations with many of my colleagues in education about their first impressions of media literacy, how they incorporate media literacy into their curricula and any challenges and obstacles they’ve experienced.
“It’s important to find out what these teachers know, want, and need so we know how we can support them.”
Born and raised in Makakilo, Hawaii, Abragar has her Master of Arts degree in Education in Secondary Education–English and her Bachelor of Arts degree in English.
Media Literacy Now is a politically neutral advocacy nonprofit with the goal of making media literacy widely understood and accepted as an essential element in public education at the local, state, and national levels. Please visit https://medialiteracynow.org/Hawaii/ for more information.