What makes MIL important for today's citizens?
In a society where media and information are embedded in our lifestyle and the way we relate and connect to one another, ensuring that citizens have high media literacy skills is key, so that they can use them in their full capacity, in a safe and responsible manner. The education system, teachers and carers, as well as producers of online media and information content (including social media platforms) all play a fundamental role. As Alton Grizzle, Programme Specialist in Communication and Information Division for Freedom of Expression and Media Development Section for Media and Society at UNESCO stated ,"when people are conscious about all types of information they receive and share (Being Informed), critically reflect on the authenticity, source and the possible intent of the information (Being Engaged), and take purposeful and informed decisions (Being Empowered) – they are on the path to being media and information literate".
The Portuguese Safer Internet Centre (SIC) considers media and information literacy a fundamental matter in the current state of the digital society we live in. For that reason, they have cooperated with the Global Media and Information Literacy Week, a global initiative about media, information and literacy, promoted by UNESCO, this year celebrating the theme MIL Citizens, Informed, Engaged, Empowered with different initiatives taking place between Thursday, 24 and Thursday, 31 October 2019.
The conference, organised by UNESCO, took place in Gothenburg, Sweden, on Tuesday, 24 and Wednesday, 25 September 2019, promoting the participation of different stakeholders. The youth had a dedicated spot during the global celebrations of the MIL week, as they are considered not only a target group of this initiative, but also actors and part of the solution.
The Youth Agenda Forum, held on Thursday, 26 September 2019, is a good example of that. It was developed and mainly promoted by youth and open to the public: local schools, universities and youth organisations, as well as youth participants from all over the world were invited to discuss issues they consider relevant trough panels, talks, workshops, games and hackathons.
The theme of this year's edition was cities and citizens in the digital era. Digital media and the different digital devices and platforms are part of our everyday lives and inevitably of the younger generations'. However, being a proficient user does not mean they necessarily have the knowledge and experience to be able to access, produce and use the day-to-day information, in particular regarding governance, and does not necessary reflect the level of education of students. It will depend on how they live their lives, on the generation they belong to and the relevant challenges younger generations face, while being MIL citizens.
The Portuguese SIC has joined this initiative and shared on its website materials and resources about MIL, produced by UNESCO.
Do you know what media literacy is?
About media and information literacy, the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) states that "the availability of harmful content in audiovisual media services is a concern for legislators, the media industry and parents. There will also be new challenges, especially in connection with new platforms and new products. Rules protecting the physical, mental and moral development of minors as well as human dignity in all audiovisual media services, including audiovisual commercial communications, are therefore necessary".
This clearly emphasises the idea that media literacy must not be limited to the instruments or technologies but should also empower citizens with the ability to think critically about complex realities and to be able to recognise opinions and facts. In 2007, UNESCO recommended the use of the expression Media and Information Literacy, involving the changes of culture in the media, because of digitalisation and of the expansion of UNESCO scope in the areas of the society of knowledge and of freedom of expression.
For more information about the Global Media Literacy Week, visit UNESCO's website.
Find out more information about the work of the Portuguese Safer Internet Centre (SIC) generally, including its awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services on the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) portal, or find similar information for Safer Internet Centres throughout Europe.