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What is media literacy and why is it so important?

Media Smart provides free media literacy teaching resources for 7-16 year olds. These resources focus on topics like advertising, digital advertising and social media. From explaining what an advert is to designing your own advert, our lesson plans are engaging as well as educational.

We also provide resources and a short film on the effects of the media on young people's body image. These free teaching materials are being used in school assemblies and lessons. And they're used as activities and presentations in youth organisations.

Media Smart’s resources take the pain out of PSHE lesson planning. We have done all the research and preparation for you.

We also provide free parent and guardian guides. It’s important for adults as well as young people to be digital as well as media literate.

But why is it important for young people and adults to be media literate? And what exactly is media literacy?

Rather than tell you what we think, we thought we’d share some of our favourite quotes on the subject……

Media Literacy is the ability to identify different types of media and understand the messages they're sending. Kids take in a huge amount of information from a wide array of sources, far beyond the traditional media (TV, radio, newspapers, and magazines) of most parents' youth.

There are text messages, memes, viral videos, social media, video games, advertising, and more. But all media shares one thing: Someone created it. And it was created for a reason”.

Common Sense Media

“Give children and young adults resilience, information and power, and hence open up the internet to them as a place where they can be citizens not just users”.

Anne Longfield Children’s Commissioner for England.

“The more that the media mediate everything in society – work, education, information, civic participation, social relationships and more – the more vital it is that people are informed about and critically able to judge what’s useful or misleading, how they are regulated, when media can be trusted, and what commercial or political interests are at stake. In short, media literacy is needed not only to engage with the media but to engage with society through the media”.

Professor Sonia Livingstone

"When people talk to me about the digital divide, I think of it not so much about who has access to what technology as about who knows how to create and express themselves in the new language of the screen. If students aren't taught the language of sound and images, shouldn't they be considered as illiterate as if they left college without being able to read and write?"

George Lucas

"Media literacy is not just important, it's absolutely critical. It's going to make the difference between whether kids are a tool of the mass media or whether the mass media is a tool for kids to use."

Linda Ellerbee

"All this stuff - about the materiality of the network, what it's made of, and how it works - should be part of a basic media literacy, because we depend on this technology for more and more aspects of our day-to-day lives."

Astra Taylor

"Just as we would not traditionally assume that someone is literate if they can read but not write, we should not assume that someone possesses media literacy if they can consume but not express themselves"

Henry Jenkins

“Today young people grow up in a world of commercial messaging that touches most areas of their lives and so it is more important than ever that they understand exactly what is being suggested, promised and sold to them through the adverts they see every day”. Mark Lund, Chairman of Media Smart and UK Group CEO at McCann Worldgroup

“I have never seen a tool that is as phenomenally empowering as the internet, for so little effort. I have met from people all over the country, from Bridlington to Bournemouth, saying it has helped them get back to work, helped them get their life back on track. I believe it’s worth spending the time showing people who haven’t had the money or exposure, the benefits.”

Martha Lane Fox

“Rather than just teaching children about internet safety and reducing their digital footprint, we should also encourage them to curate a positive digital footprint which will be an asset for them in their future.”

Rachel Buchanan

“Media Literacy … provides a framework to access, analyse, evaluate, create and participate with messages in a variety of forms — from print to video to the Internet. Media literacy builds an understanding of the role of media in society as well as essential skills of inquiry and self-expression necessary for citizens of a democracy.”

Center for Media Literacy

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