Re-Imagining Digital and New Media Literacies in Social Work Education

A Critical Framework for Overcoming #FakeNews, Divisiveness, and Injustice




Digital Literacies, Misinformation, critical thinking, new media literacies, disinformation


Social unrest and division within the United States has become more visible and magnified since the 2016 election of former President Trump. This unrest has been amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic and white supremist attacks across the country. Throughout this era, information has been perpetuated through systemic and cultural networks promoting pseudoscience, #fakenews, misinformation, and explicit marginalization of racial, gender, ethnic, and cultural minorities. During this time, social work practitioners and educators have struggled to counter misinformation in classrooms and practice contexts. This paper proposes a newly re-imagined framework for addressing misinformation and civil discourse in social work education through the adoption and infusion of digital and new media literacies from within a critical theory driven epistemological framework. Recommendations are provided for incorporating tools, skills, and competencies throughout the curriculum in a more meaningful way that will help the profession combat misinformation, promote civil discourse, and utilize best practices in a digitally augmented society. Only then will the social work profession be able to meet the current and future challenges and opportunities that will undoubtedly accompany the expansion of digital technologies throughout our society.

Author Biography

Jimmy A. Young, California State University San Marcos

Dr. Jimmy A. Young is an Associate Professor in the Department of Social Work at California State University San Marcos. His research interests center on the use of technology in nonprofit organizations and social work education.


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