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Second Media Literacy Days: critical thinking, respect in media and fake news

Photo: VKljajo/UNICEF

Zagreb, 1 April 2019 – Better understanding, analysis and critical assessment of media, the identification of misinformation, privacy protection and responsible use of media and social media are the key issues discussed at the Second Media Literacy Days organised by the Agency for Electronic Media and UNICEF and held from 8 to 12 April across all of Croatia. The main topic of this year’s edition – respecting yourself and others as media users – was presented at the School for Graphics, Design and Media Production in Zagreb.

The Second Media Literacy Days will feature over 180 events held in more than 60 towns and other locations in Croatia – lectures, workshops and film screenings – organised in cooperation with many libraries, kindergartens, schools, universities, cinemas, media outlets, associations and cultural institutions from the whole of Croatia. A programme under the title “Children learn about media” is already underway. It gives elementary school and secondary school pupils an opportunity to learn how media work, see how news is created and try creating media content themselves. This year’s Media Literacy Days will also include educational film screenings held at independent cinemas (in cooperation with the Croatian Audiovisual Centre, the Cinema Network, and the Croatian Film Association) in twelve towns across Croatia.

Robert Tomljenović, Deputy President of the Agency for Electronic Media, Nina Obuljen Koržinek, the Minister of Culture, Đurđica Ivković, Deputy Head of the UNICEF Office for Croatia, Dan Stanić and Ivana Popović, students, authors of animation on online violence and fake news and Blaženka Divjak, the Minister of Science and Education. Photo: VKljajo/UNICEFRobert Tomljenović, Deputy President of the Agency for Electronic Media, Nina Obuljen Koržinek, the Minister of Culture, Đurđica Ivković, Deputy Head of the UNICEF Office for Croatia, Dan Stanić and Ivana Popović, students, authors of animation on online violence and fake news and Blaženka Divjak, the Minister of Science and Education.

“Inappropriate content in the media and on social media, hate speech and various kinds of manipulation that confront us on a daily basis are a major problem, and the only skill we can use to fight it is media literacy which has become one of the most relevant competences for life in the 21st century. Therefore, media literacy will be one of the more significant topics of the Croatian Presidency of the Council of Europe in 2020. Many media outlets and libraries are participating in the Media Literacy Days, and these are the kinds of places where different media literacy projects, seminars or workshops are to be implemented, not only for children and young people, but also for the elderly who need society’s help to learn how to use information and digital technologies because living without them is impossible today”, said the Minister of Culture, Nina Obuljen Koržinek.

Blaženka Divjak, the Minister of Science and Education, said: “Under the curricular reform, which is to be implemented from this autumn in all Croatian schools, media literacy is covered through many subjects and cross-curricular topics. Critical thinking is a crucial skill whose importance is also emphasised in the reform. Media literacy is key to fighting fake news on social media and other media, as well as in general”.

In cooperation with local media literacy specialists, new educational materials have been created for working with children, young people and parents. They are free for downloading at www.medijskapismenost.hr. The embassies of the Nordic countries have provided significant support for this year’s Media Literacy Days by ensuring educational materials, and organising a film screening of Facebookistan and the guest appearance of Mikka Sale, an acclaimed Finnish expert on media literacy.

“Each day, both children and adults are exposed to vast amounts of information through different sources. It is thus crucial that we know how to be critical of all media content. Our research has shown that parents are worried, especially about how easily children can access inappropriate and violent content on the internet. By organising the Media Literacy Days, we want to send a message to children and parents that they are not alone, and ensure high-quality materials for educators and teachers working with children, young people and parents”, emphasised Đurđica Ivković, Deputy Head of the UNICEF Office for Croatia.

 Media literacy is one of the most important skills of the 21st century and a key factor in making information-based decisions in the digital age. We are exposed to immense amounts of information each day, and media literacy is a skill that enables us to navigate our way through vast quantities of fake news, manipulation and hate speech, and choose quality content and relevant, true and verified information. This skill is particularly important for children who are starting to use different media at an increasingly early age.

“In an increasingly complex media environment, only media literacy can help us protect ourselves from misinformation, manipulation and deception which are growing more sophisticated as technology advances. Therefore, we launched Media Literacy Days as a platform to bring together a broad range of social stakeholders and to provide the conditions necessary for sustainable media literacy projects. The response to Media Literacy Days and a large number of related events show that many stakeholders recognise the need for media education that ought to be life-long, and confirm the need for a systematic, strategic and coordinated national approach to media literacy”, underlined Robert Tomljenović, Deputy President of the Agency for Electronic Media.

Photo: DMiljanić/UNICEF

Research conducted by IPSOS Puls for the Agency for Electronic Media and UNICEF has confirmed the great importance of increasing the level of media literacy. Only 8% of citizens have had the opportunity to learn how to critically assess media content, and one-third of parents rarely or never talk to their children about media. Almost every fourth child or young person has personally experienced violence and hate speech on social media. Just under half of the parents are concerned about children using YouTube, but they are most worried about the easy accessibility of violent and child-inappropriate content, non-labelled age-inappropriate content, and using YouTube to spread hate speech. As the most important aspects of media literacy, citizens emphasised the protection of privacy and personal data on the internet, recognising fake news and misinformation, verifying information sources and appreciating and respecting other people and their opinions and beliefs.

The Second Media Literacy Days is sponsored by the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Science and Education.

Follow the Media Literacy Days at medijskapismenost.hr

Updated: 07 May 2019
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