6.8 Media literacy and safe use of new media
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In 2015, the Government commissioned the Swedish National Agency for Education to propose two IT strategies, one for preschool and compulsory education and one for upper secondary education. The agency has completed the task and reported to the Government in 2016. The strategy includes the following vision for 2022:
- All students develop adequate digital skills.
- The school system is characterized by the potential of digitalisation, so that digital tools and resources contribute to improved results and efficiency.
The current national digitalisation strategy for schools applies to the years 2018–2022. The government has tasked the Swedish Education Agency (Skolverket) with developing a proposal for a new national digitalisation strategy for the years 2023–2027. The proposal was presented for the government in December 2022.
In March 2017, the Government decided on the following adjustments in curricula and syllabuses that aim to strengthen media literacy and online safety in different ways:
- programming is introduced as a distinct element in various subjects in compulsory education, especially in technology and mathematics
- the abilities of students to critically evaluate sources is to be strengthened
- the abilities of students to solve problems and translate ideas into action in a creative way with the use of digital technology is to be strengthened
- students are to work with digital texts, media and tools
- students are to use and understand digital systems and services
- students are to develop an understanding of the impact of digitalisation on the individual and society.
The amendments apply from July 2018. The Swedish Media Council (Medierådet) and the National Agency for Education (Skolverket) are the main government actors responsible for promoting the use of digital media, empowering children and young people as conscious media users and protecting them from harmful media influences.
The Swedish Media Council (Statens medieråd) is a government agency devoted to gathering, interpreting and disseminating research on children's and young people's use of media. The council also produces information and teaching materials on Media and Information Literacy (MIL) for schools and libraries.
The Swedish Media Council has, during January 2015–June 2016, been responsible for the Swedish part of the EU Commission's project Safer Internet, to promote a safer and better use of the internet and mobile technologies among children and young people.
Safer Internet Centre Sweden (SIC SE) worked with the concept of MIL based on the UNESCO framework and definitions, with minor national adaptations. The Swedish Media Council’s learning tool MIL for me, an online training resource on media and information literacy, is available at the Safer Internet network's site Betterinternetforkids.eu, as well as at the web site of the Media Council.
The digital training materials in 'MIL for me' are aimed for strengthening young people’s skills to cope with anti-democratic messages at the Internet and in social media. Part of that work is to strengthen young people's critical thinking and their abilities to evaluate different sources in relation to the media.
‘MIL for me’ won the prize for the best educational tool in media and information literacy for children and young people of the European network Insafe (a part of the Safer Internet).
Use of new media and mental well-being
The Swedish Media Council conducted a study in 2020 on Swedish young people's self-estimated mental well-being in relation to their self-estimated media use, Young people, media and mental illness (Unga, medier och psykisk ohälsa). The results show that there is a correlation between poorer mental well-being and more extensive media use among Swedish teenagers. However, the connections are rather weak.
The Swedish Media Council is one of the public agencies that have been tasked by the government to form a national strategy in the field of mental health and suicide prevention. The assignment is led by the Public Health Agency and the National Board of Health and Welfare, with a final report on 1 September 2023.
No hate speech
Between 2013 and 2020, the Swedish Media Council run the European Council campaign No Hate Speech Movement in Sweden, at the directive of the Swedish government. The aim of the campaign is to prevent racism, sexism, xenophobia, and other forms of intolerance and to shield democracy from violent extremism. The campaign focuses particularly on promoting human rights, democracy and equality on the Internet, and encouraging source criticism and critical thinking in relation to media. The final report presents the main results.