Empowering people to navigate content safely and flourish online


INSIGHT
Published
Apr 29th '24
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  • Ofcom sets out three-year plan to promote media literacy
  • Focus will be on helping those who need it most
  • Improving media literacy is a collective effort, but online platforms in particular must do more

 

Ofcom has set out how it plans to step up its media literacy work in the coming years, as part of new duties to protect and empower internet users under the Online Safety Act.

 

Improving media literacy is everyone’s business. Online platforms have a particularly important role to play, but it also involves broadcasters, service providers, parents, educators, third-sector organisations, health and social care providers, and those working with children.

 

Ofcom, as broadcast media and online safety regulator, will be playing their part by acting as convener and catalyst – bringing together expert organisations and setting the agenda for change. Specifically, Ofcom will be: developing a deeper understanding of what media literacy measures and initiatives work; stepping up work with organisations that deliver media literacy programmes; expanding research evidence base; and encouraging platforms to go further in to helping people build their skills.

 

“We are constantly surrounded by media, news and entertainment, so the ability to navigate and evaluate content critically is becoming increasingly essential to our daily lives. We all have a role to play in making sure that adults and children across the UK can navigate content safely and flourish online.” – Yih-Choung Teh, Ofcom’s Strategy and Research Group Director

 

Platforms

Some online services already use features and tools, such as pop-ups and notifications, to provide context to the content their users see. Ofcom will build understanding of what users find helpful when navigating online content and how platforms can best support people by providing information at different points in the user journey.

 

Ofcom will turn research into actionable insights for industry by highlighting what works best for users, what good looks like, and using their influence to encourage platforms to make changes to their products and services informed by users’ expectations.

 

They will look at the following specific issues:

 

  • Misinformation and disinformation.
  • Harmful content and activity that disproportionately affects women and girls.
  • Protection of personal information.
  • Content of democratic importance.

 

Partnerships

Ofcom insights suggest that media literacy interventions are most effective when they are delivered by trusted voices. In addition to the professionals that an individual already trusts to support them, this could be someone from the same community or with similar life experiences as the participants.

 

To build new relationships and broaden network with a wider range of organisations, Ofcom will:

 

  • Continue to focus on commissioned work in areas of greatest need and for those who will benefit from it the most.
  • Continue to work with communities experiencing financial disadvantage.
  • Expand work commissioning training for professionals working with children and young people.

 

Evidence and evaluation

Ofcom will expand the breadth and depth insight into online and media use in the context of daily life, and amplify the voices and testimony of a range of groups across society. They will assess changes in media literacy among adults and children over time, using a range of core measures, and use a range of innovative methods to gain insights into key topics.

 

They will build a deeper understanding of ‘what works’ for the delivery of media literacy interventions, and share those findings to support the delivery of more effective initiatives in the future. Ofcom will also expand evaluation toolkit for third-sector organisations delivering media literacy initiatives.

 

Next steps

Ofcom is consulting on this strategy and inviting interested parties to respond by 24 June 2024. Before then, they will host a virtual event and in-person events in Edinburgh, Belfast, London and Cardiff. Ofcom will carefully consider all the responses received and publish the final strategy in the Autumn.

 

Source:  Office of Communication (Ofcom)

 

Further information

Making Sense of Media is Ofcom’s media literacy programme of work to help improve the online skills, knowledge and understanding of UK adults and children.

 

About Ofcom

Ofcom is the regulator for the communications services that we use and rely on each day.

 

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