Media literacy in the digital environment
Media literacy represents a considerable challenge for the European Commission because it helps to provide European citizens with tools to better understand the digital environment, which is becoming more predominant in European society.
Commission Recommendation 2009/625/EC of 20 August 2009 on media literacy in the digital environment for a more competitive audiovisual and content industry and an inclusive knowledge society.
This Recommendation aims to increase media literacy in the digital environment in order to achieve a more competitive knowledge economy while contributing towards a more inclusive information society.
Media literacy is defined as the ability to access the media, and to understand and critically evaluate different aspects of the media and media content. Media literacy also includes the ability to communicate in a variety of contexts.
There are still many barriers to the development of media literacy at European level. Member States still lack a shared vision in this area. In addition, the lack of visibility of national, regional and local initiatives in this area makes it more difficult to foster European networks. Consequently, for the moment, there is no coordination between stakeholders.
Media literacy should enable European citizens to better understand and analyse the media messages and content they encounter and to acquire the skills which will enable them to play their role of citizen fully.
It may also contribute to safeguarding the pluralism and independence of the media. It permits the expression of diverse opinions from different social groups and promotes the development of the values of tolerance and dialogue.
Media literacy also plays an important role in enhancing awareness of the European audiovisual heritage and cultural identities. In fact, it helps to increase knowledge of and interest in recent European cultural works.
Faced with these challenges, the European Commission proposes encouraging research projects on media literacy in the framework of existing programmes.
Member States are invited to develop and implement co-regulatory initiatives leading to the adoption of codes of conduct relating to the European media.
It is important to promote and finance research, studies and projects covering the different aspects and dimensions of media literacy in the digital environment.
Member States are also encouraged to organise debates in conferences and public events with a view to the inclusion of media literacy in the education curriculum and as part of the provision of key competences for lifelong learning.
Member States should also implement national campaigns to raise public awareness of cultural heritage, as well as training to raise awareness of the risks involved in processing personal data through information and communication networks.
Moreover, the Media Industry is invited to suggest tools for improving the level of media literacy, such as:
- information tools relating to digital content and search engines;
- awareness-raising campaigns about techniques used for commercial communication purposes (product placement and online advertising);
- information packs for young people on the processing of personal data;
- information days on the creative economy and copyright.
The Commission Communication of December 2007 on ‘A European approach to media literacy in the digital environment’ emphasised the importance of media literacy in relation to commercial communication, audiovisual works and digital content. A better level of media literacy would contribute towards the objectives that the European Union set for itself in Lisbon and in the context of the i2010 initiative.