National strategies promoting media literacy and online safety (September 2020)
Access to and proficiency in digital media are indispensable for young people to take full advantage of opportunities in education, civic participation and the labour market. To this end, a good level of media literacy (e.g. understanding the workings of media, assessing the reliability of information, creating online content) is needed. In parallel, it is essential that young people know how to use media safely in order to avoid threats like grooming, cyber-bullying and appropriation of personal data.
At the same time, the increasing use of digital means in education and work poses a risk of exclusion. Young Europeans who do not have access to digital technologies (for example because of the lack of broadband internet or hardware), or do not hold appropriate skills, are at a disadvantage in education and employment.
Strengthening literacy and safe use of numerical media is one of the targets of EU policy. The Digital education action plan encourages member States to adapt education and training systems to the digital age and improve the opportunities for online learning.
As the map shows, youth strategies on media literacy and safe use of digital technologies exist in one-third of European countries. For example, the “Digital Child Protection Strategy” of Hungary focuses on raising awareness amongst children and youth on the risks posed by unsafe use of the internet. In Italy, the “National Plan Digital School” aims at broadening the coverage of digital equipment (e.g. optic fibre) and boosting the competences of teachers.
In another third of countries, youth-specific measures are included in general media strategies. For instance, the “National Strategy for the Digital Agenda” of Romania incorporates measures fostering young people’s skills in information and communication technologies, both in curricular and extra-curricular activities.
A few countries cover media literacy and safety as parts of their youth or education strategies. For example, in Lithuania, the topics are included in the Information Literacy Framework Programme for Primary Education and the Information Technology Framework Programme for Basic Education.