6.8 Media literacy and safe use of new media
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Croatia currently lacks a strategy solely devoted to media literacy and the safe use of new media.
In the Strategy for Education, Science and Technology, the section pertaining to primary and secondary education outlines plans for the implementation of materials addressing media literacy.
The Electronic Media Act includes specific measures aimed at the protection of young people from offensive and harmful content. The Act was initially adopted in 2009, with the latest version being from 2021. It specifies that it is prohibited to encourage, promote, or extol violence and crime in audio-visual and radio programmes. Additionally, it is prohibited to encourage children and youth to consume tobacco products, alcohol, and drugs. Programmes that could impair the physical, mental, or moral development of young individuals, especially those presenting pornography or senseless violence, are also prohibited according to the Act. In the case of such programmes being aired, special measures are prescribed. The Act also envisions the Fund for the Promotion of Pluralism and Diversity in Electronic Media, which provides funding for content related to media literacy. The Ministry of Culture and Media is the authority responsible for the implementation, coordination, and monitoring.
The Agency for Electronic Media (AEM) is tasked with handling issues on media literacy and the safe use of new media. The Director of the AEM is appointed by the Croatian Parliament. One of the AEM’s internal units is the Department for Media Analysis and Monitoring. In 2015, the AEM adopted the Ordinance on the Protection of Minors in Electronic Media. The Ordinance defines materials that could impair the physical, mental, or moral development of minors. It outlines the method of portraying and protecting minors in the media and specifies the warning measures r for programmes containing such material.
The AEM also adopted the Recommendations for the Protection of Children and the Safe Use of Electronic Media, directed towards youth groups. The recommendations include guidelines for classifying audio-visual content potentially harmful to children and youth, recommendations for editors and media employees, recommendations for parents, and recommendations for educators.
The Office of the Ombudsman for Children contributes to the protection of children’s rights in the media by monitoring the protection of privacy, protection from harmful content, the realisation of the right to access to information, the provision of high-quality content for children, and the participation of children in the creation of media content. As stated in the yearly report, ’(…) the Electronic Media Act offers a solid framework for the protection of children’s privacy. However, the violations of this right are rarely recognised in practice and are rarely and very mildly sanctioned’.
The Digital Croatia Strategy for the Period until 2032, within the framework of the Priority Area of public policy implementation 4.2: Development of citizens' digital competencies for life and work with the use of ICT (18.104.22.168), discusses the role of youth as follows:
‘Through formal and informal education programmes, created with the application of the instruments of the Croatian Qualification Framework by awarding vouchers for lifelong learning, the acquisition of digital competencies necessary for work for employed and unemployed persons will be ensured, from which vulnerable groups such as young people or the long-term unemployed could have particular benefits.’
Topics related to media literacy are incorporated into both the primary school curriculum and the secondary schools curricula as part of Croatian language classes. The field of media culture encompasses themes of media communication training and training for the evaluation of radio, television, and movie programmes. In secondary schools (both generalist programmes and 4-5 year vocational programmes), within the Politics and Economy class, students encounter the unit ‘Politics and the Public’. This unit covers themes of the public opinion, censorship, print, radio, and television.
The Civic Education is an inter-subject module in both primary and secondary schools. It includes topics related to media literacy within other subjects. The covered themes include the media and critical understanding of media content, the positive and negative influence of the media, the advantages and dangers of the Internet, Internet safety, resilience, and critical understanding of media content.
The report of the European Audiovisual Observatory titled Mapping of Media Literacy Practices and Actions in EU-28 states that there are no media literacy networks facilitating cooperation across a large number of partners.
There are two initiatives aimed at enhancing young people's media literacy and awareness of online safety issues within the context of non-formal and informal learning. The Centre for Safer Internet (CIS)organises trainings, workshops, and debates for students, youth, parents, and teachers. The CIS has developed three apps and published an educational manual on the safer use of the Internet. Additionally, they initiated a specialist study programme ‘Digital safety and privacy’.
The CIS launched a phone line to report harmful Internet content, providing professional assistance to both children and parents.
The above mentioned project Choose What You Are Watching was a joint campaign of UNICEF and the AEM with the purpose of raising awareness of the importance of increasing media literacy among parents, caretakers, children, and youth. It emphasised the importance of choosing media content and paying attention to content rating notifications, encouraging the critical evaluation of media content. Following this campaign, the AEM, in cooperation with UNESCO, launched the Internet portal Media Literacy aimed at enhancing media literacy, as well as media skills and knowledge among children, youth, parents, caretakers, and teachers.