Media literacy is defined as a set of competencies that helps people critically analyze, understand and create media messages. Teaching children to become media literate emerged as a new field of education in the second half of the 20th century. While the pioneering work of Dewey, Freinet, Gerbner, Hall and Whannel (as cited by Cappello et al., 2011) was infl uential in the development of media literacy, this article argues for the importance of positioning media literacy in a broader theoretical context. Th erefore, the article presents an analysis of media literacy education by relying on two of the founders of modern social thought: Rousseau and Mill. The article demonstrates how Rousseau’s treatise is as timely as ever when it comes to understanding the educational aims of media literacy. Similarly, Mill’s approach helps us in understanding the importance of media literacy education not only in school curricula, but also in many other aspects of social life.