Yesterday DCMS launched its Media Literacy Strategy – a long-awaited commitment by the department to help tackle the worrying levels of online misinformation and disinformation, and their impact on some of the most vulnerable members of society. We welcome DCMS’ response to these phenomena; particularly, the priority of fostering a strong working relationship with the media literacy practitioners to ensure that young people receive appropriate and fit-for-purpose media literacy education. This will foster not only healthier habits and attitudes when navigating the online world, but will also transform how young people build relationships with their peers. In the first half of the 2020/2021 academic year, we had the chance to engage just over 500 young people from Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) and state schools by delivering our Extremism and Media Literacy programme. The post-programme results were astonishing: 

  • Nearly 60% of participants shared that they would consider the motivations behind why others post online;
  • Just over 70% of participants  ‘Strongly Agreed’ and ‘Agreed’ that if they were not sure whether a story was true, they would fact-check it before sharing it;
  • Finally, 68% of participants ‘Strongly Agreed’ and ‘Agreed’ that they would seek our views and opinions different to their own when spending time online. 

Setting the scene for a more collaborative relationship between the government and the civil society sector and ensuring greater coordination of activities can go a long way in filling in the existing gaps. We are particularly interested to see how the strategy is going to be implemented at schools, where young people spend a significant portion of their time, as well as how the strategy can foster a four-way collaboration between the DfE, DCMS, schools, and civil society organisations. What is more, we need to consider how it will support existing Ofsted requirements, such as the provision of British Values and the Prevent Duty, as well as how it will prepare teachers, community safety officers, civil servants, and youth workers to meet the strategy’s objectives.

We commit to continue working alongside the government, other civil society organisations in the media literacy space, and academics to design effective interventions that will contribute to building overall societal resilience. Moreover, as the Secretariat to the APPG for Political Literacy, we will ensure that parliamentarians remain engaged and embed the strategy’s key recommendations and challenges in their line of work. We will also integrate it into our approach to ensuring that all young people receive comprehensive political literacy at schools. Political and media literacy are interchangeable – adopting critical thinking skills and the ability to analyse crucial information is fundamental for helping young people become active and engaged citizens. 

Last but not least we are also determined to continue listening to our networks of young people and teachers to better understand what their needs are and how we as an organisation can support them in ensuring that we have a generation of confident, media literate critical thinkers, able to withstand the ever-evolving mis and disinformation phenomena.