Office of Communications (Ofcom) is commissioning a number of organisations across the UK to help improve online media literacy skills among groups and communities most at risk of online harm.
Online media literacy is having the skills, knowledge and understanding to safely participate in the online world. It empowers people to become informed digital decision-makers and, importantly, to identify and protect themselves and others against harmful content.
Ofcom has a formal duty to promote media literacy, which is crucial in helping to build a safer life online.
Helping groups who need it the most
Ofcom research has consistently shown that not everyone has the skills they need to navigate the online world effectively and safely. So, each of the organisations they’re commissioning will be trialling an innovative approach to help improve the online knowledge and understanding of local people who need the most support.
These groups include:
- older people and those at risk of digital exclusion;
- disabled people;
- children aged 10 to 14; and
- communities experiencing financial disadvantage.
The work will be carried out in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Here are details of the organisations, their planned initiatives and the groups they will be working with.
- The Guardian Foundation
This programme will work alongside youth organisations in Birmingham to train professionals and deliver engaging workshops about how news is developed and how to identify misinformation.
- Royal Mencap Society NI
Working with young people with learning disabilities and their parents, Mencap NI will support young people to access the internet in a way that supports their needs and interests and keeps them safe.
- Salford Foundation
Children will plan and deliver a media literacy focused social action campaign aiming to raise awareness of a media literacy issue among their peers.
The Ebbw Vale Institute sits at the heart of its community, providing a broad range of vital services to local people. The partnership with Boys and Girls Clubs and the opportunity for younger teenagers to learn from their older peers were particularly interesting.
- Praesidio Safeguarding
Firmly based in the principles of effective youth work, Praesidio will design and test a toolkit for youth workers that gives young people a safe space to share the benefits and challenges of online life.
- West Nottinghamshire College
Moving beyond the classroom and taking a particularly innovative approach to outreach, West Notts College aim to work with older adults in former mining villages wherever they are, including in the local shopping centre.
- Advice NI
Advice NI will use the innovative approach of using digital champions to deliver a structured course for older adults. Participants will learn about using online services, avoiding scams and how to identify misinformation.
- Age UK East London
AUEL’s digital inclusion worker will support older adults around how they can use online tools to help combat the cost of living crisis.
- Red Chair Highland Ltd (formerly The Libertie Project)
Red Chair Highland sit at the heart of their community in Inverness, providing tailored support and informal drop in sessions for older adults based on their own interests e.g. how to play Bridge online.
- Norfolk Library and Information Service
Norfolk libraries staff will be trained in supporting older adults to live life online, offering drop-in sessions and ongoing support locally.
- The Brain Charity
Working with people with neurological conditions, The Brain Charity will provide support across a broad range of media literacy skills including developing online resources in an Easy Read format.
An interesting community-driven approach across five residential Birmingham villages with in-person training for care staff and virtual follow-ups provided by volunteers.
Mencap will work with adults with learning disabilities in Liverpool to design a “thinking process” which helps them to engage critically with online content.
Ofcom wants to hear from you
As part of Ofcom’s goal of promoting people’s ability to participate effectively and stay safe online they are keen to find out and learn about innovative practices, projects and initiatives that are being trialled by a range of organisations across the UK to bring media literacy together with mental health support.
If you are a clinician, counsellor, charity or commissioner working to integrate mental health support and media literacy, Ofcom would like to hear from you. Please contact Jessie Cunnett (email@example.com) to find out more.
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