EU wants more Media Literacy

The EU has recognised the advantages of the new digital revolution and wants its citizens to participate more fully.  It hopes to achieve this by adopting a set of policy guidelines (August 20th) calling on EU countries and industry to promote media literacy across Europe.

One of the main methods in achieving this is through education, particularly in schools.  It is here  where the UK is acknowledged for it’s work in already having it as part of the school curriculum and its promotion through the kidSMART website.

Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding said:

“Interacting with the media now means a lot more than writing to a newspaper. Media, especially new digital technologies, involve more Europeans in a world of sharing, interaction and creation. Consumers today can create their own content and make new works by transforming third party content.

“However, people who cannot use new media like social networks or digital TV will find it hard to interact with and take part in the world around them. We must make sure everyone is media literate so nobody is left out. Citizens are being talked to all the time, but can they talk back? If they can use the media in a competent and creative way we would take a step towards a new generation of democratic participation.”

A few reasons why it’s important:

  • The Commission considers media illiteracy as a new form of social exclusion and therefore is pushing member states to narrow the gaps that the development of new technologies are creating between generations and between people with different economic or social backgrounds.
  • There are many users who browse and skim through internet content on blogs and other news sites without questioning the content or motives of the content providers which has the danger of leading to mass mis-information.
  • Media literacy will help increase awareness of the risks of exposing personal data and therefore hopefully help EU citizens better protect their privacy.

The European Commission released a “Digital Europe” report earlier in August 2009 (IP/09/1221) that showed Europeans are becoming more skilful internet and computers users, with 60 per cent “digitally literate”, an essential aspect of media literacy.  However, the 24 per cent of Europeans who are still without internet at home said this is due to a lack of the necessary skills to use it.

Sources and further reading:

EC recommendation on media literacy

European Commission urges New Media literacy

Current news from the European Union

EU proposes Internet lessons

EU wants media literacy to be taught in school

EU sets new information society challenge: Becoming literate in new media