Promoting digital and media literacy skills for Safer Internet Day 2020

Safer Internet Day (SID) is around the corner. On Tuesday, 11 February 2020, we will be millions around the globe, united to inspire positive change online. The campaign's slogan, "Together for a better internet", is a call to action for all stakeholders to join together and play their part in creating a better internet for everyone.

More and more, we rely on social media platforms to consume news about current events and form our own interpretation of these. Children are far from exempt from this phenomenon; they are exposed to digital devices from an ever-younger age, and this gives them access to a wide variety of media – text messages, social media posts, advertisement, videos, memes, gaming, and much more. The digital age has made it possible for anyone to create media quickly and effortlessly, and most importantly, without necessarily having to take ownership for the messages spread.

Hence, media literacy has become an essential skill for children and young people in the 21st century. Simply defined as "the ability to identify different types of media and understand the messages they're sending", media literacy helps children reflect critically on the media they consume, understand the role they play in our societies, and discern the motives and point of view behind a specific piece of online content. According to the European Youth Portal, media literacy encourages critical thinking and helps understand how media content affects culture and society; identify marketing and communication strategies; recognise the purpose of the creator of media content; recognise persuasion techniques; recognise misinformation, manipulation and loyalty; create and share one's own media content; and participate in the public sphere as an active citizen.

Advice for parents and carers

Parents and carers should have a meaningful dialogue with their children, from an early age, about the online media they consume. Such a discussion should not seek to impose them a vision of what is right or wrong on the internet, but rather, it should encourage the child to reflect critically on what they encounter online, and how they should approach online media.
For further guidance, parents and carers can consult the following Safer Internet Day resources:

  • Play the Populism Bingo with your children (over the age of 13). This serious game, developed by the Finnish Safer Internet Centre (SIC), helps them examine political discourse and develop their media literacy skills.
  • Read the Finnish SIC's seven tips for parents in the digital age regarding their children's media consumption habits, both for teenagers or younger children.

All these resources, and more, are available in the Safer Internet Day gallery of educational resources, which features materials for children of all ages, in a wide range of European languages.

Advice for teachers and educators

The primary aim of elementary and secondary education is to ensure that children and young people acquire the knowledge and the skills to become the active (digital) citizens of tomorrow. Media literacy is therefore a fundamental skill for today's young people, and schools play a fundamental role in that regard.

A very effective way of doing so for teachers and educators is to focus both on media analysis – encouraging the pupils to look at the author of a specific message, the target audience, what is (or is not) said and why, what the techniques used to convince are, and so on – but also media production – empowering children to create their own online media step by step has proven very effective in that regard.

For further guidance, teachers and educators can consult the following Safer Internet Day resources:

All these resources, and more, are available in the Safer Internet Day gallery of educational resources, which features materials for children of all ages, in a wide range of European languages.

Recommendations for wider stakeholders – industry representatives and decision makers

Over recent years, many policy and legal initiatives have aimed to curb online disinformation by holding the online platforms and services accountable for the content they host. While this has been a significant step, it does not solve the problem at its roots, and it poses the risk that "anti-fake news" policies become associated with a reduction in citizens' freedom of speech, thereby losing legitimacy and credibility. These initiatives should therefore be complemented with measures taking into account the potential of education and awareness in addressing online disinformation, and empowering citizens, from the youngest ages, to become critical consumers of online media.

In that regard, the European Commission launched in 2019 its first-ever European Media Literacy Week, aiming to underline the societal importance of media literacy and promote media literacy initiatives and projects across the EU.

We invite you all to join the movement and play your part for a better internet, on the next edition of Safer Internet Day on Tuesday, 11 February 2020.

Find further information on www.saferinternetday.org, a global online community platform where countries and international organisations showcase the events and the actions they will conduct locally, nationally and internationally for Safer Internet Day.

Additionally, keep an eye on the official Safer Internet Day social media channels on Facebook and Twitter, and follow the conversation with the hashtags #SaferInternetDay and #SID2020.


Related news

Danish SIC focuses on manipulation of images on Safer Internet Day

  • Awareness
  • 11/02/2020
  • Danish Safer Internet Centre

In preparation for Safer Internet Day (SID) 2020, The Media Council for Children and Young People (Denmark) held a conference on sharing and manipulating images online. The conference, which took place on 27 January 2020, was held in collaboration with the Danish Safer Internet Centre (SIC) partners: The Centre for Digital Youth Care and Save the Children. During the conference, young people and experts shared their thoughts on the theme. On SID 2020, we will publish materials (in Danish) with information and learnings from the day.

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