Media literacy is important for keeping a healthy balance of online and offline activities
Start of 6. Media Literacy Days
Zagreb, April 24th, 2023 – Under the slogan “In balance - online and offline”, the 6th Media Literacy Days began, organized by the Agency for Electronic Media and UNICEF, and under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture and Media and the Ministry of Science and Education. The focus of numerous events and workshops, which are held in schools, libraries, kindergartens, and other institutions across the country, is the influence of the media and social networks on the mental health of children and young people. How important it is to provide opportunities for the development of skills in the field of media literacy is demonstrated by the results of the research conducted by Ipsos for the Agency for Electronic Media and UNICEF:
- 79,2 % of children and young people aged 16 to 25 and 48 % of general population spend more free time online than planned daily or several times a week.
- Almost every other young person aged 16 to 25 and every fourth person in general population has felt stress, loneliness, envy, and lower self-esteem due to content on social networks.
- 58 % of young people aged 16 to 25 and 23,3 % of general population has had the opportunity to learn about the media.
- Most common sources of information about relevant topics are internet portals, social networks, and television.
“The theme of this year's Media Literacy Days shows how important it is to enable young people to acquire knowledge and skills to be able to create a healthy image of themselves in real life, but also in the virtual media space, which strongly influences their development and behaviour. The use of modern technology and the amount of available information can cause stressful and unforeseen situations, which is why there is a need to support not only young people, but also all our citizens in a healthier and more balanced use of the Internet, but also in strengthening their skills in recognizing misinformation and protecting against it. In this context, the ability to think critically is extremely important for the safe consumption of media content and the use of social networks”, said Minister of Culture and Media Nina Obuljen Koržinek.
“Media literacy includes many knowledge, skills and competencies, but the greatest value of media literacy is the ability to analyse, evaluate and put information into context. Students develop media literacy as a competence in a number of subjects and cross-curricular topics in primary and secondary schools, such as the Croatian language, computer science, mathematics, use of information and communication technology, personal and social development. With it, we develop critical thinking and evaluation, because among all the information it is important to recognize those that are verified and accurate”, said Ivica Šušak, State Secretary at the Ministry of Science and Education.
“Everything that has happened in recent years has confirmed that the Agency for Electronic Media and UNICEF recognized the importance and launched projects to strengthen media literacy in Croatia in a timely manner. Our Media Literacy Days grow strongly from year to year in terms of both the number of events and the number of participants, and now reach tens of thousands of citizens across the country and provide media education for young people. The rapid development of artificial intelligence, which we are currently witnessing, further indicates that we must work harder on media literacy and that it must be an important segment of education. We use various platforms and new technologies every day, but to be able to protect ourselves from their negative influence, we must understand how they work and how the content we consume through them is created”, said Robert Tomljenović, Deputy President of the Council for Electronic Media.
“Children and young people are aware that modern technology is useful for them, but that it can also have a negative impact – on education, on the quality of free time, on physical and mental health, and they count on the support of adults who are close to them, their parents and teachers. Through this year's educational materials and numerous activities, we want to support children and young people in building a healthy self-image and in strengthening their socio-emotional competencies. We hope to encourage them to critically evaluate the content they consume online, to become aware of the impact it has on their self-image, and to understand how their online activities affect the quality of their live relationships. All this would not be possible without the support of thousands of caring and dedicated teachers who participate in Media Literacy Days every year”, said Ana Dautović, Deputy Representative of the UNICEF Office for Croatia.
At the press conference, the winning films of the film competition held as part of the Media Literacy Day organized by the Croatian Film Association, the Agency for Electronic Media and UNICEF were presented, and the winners were awarded commemorative plaques. The theme of the film competition this year was “Relationships and friendships ONline and OFFline”. A record 77 films were submitted, which shows the great interest of children and young people in this topic. In the primary school category, the film “Online (thin line) Offline” won. Young authors Pia Jandrić, Iris Huđin and Noa Pirak from Elementary School Čazma made the film with the support of their mentor, Croatian language teacher Nikolina Huđber Mesar. The film “Reality” won in the high school category. The authors are students of the Varaždin Electrical Engineering School, Iva Osivnik and Jakov Bastalec, with the support of mentor Tibor Bün, professor and host of the First School Television.
“It is important to learn about the media so we can critically judge the media content we are exposed to every day. The media has great power – both positive and negative – and we must know it well in order to minimize the negative effects of the media. Today, life is unimaginable without media literacy, and it should be included in elementary and high school programs for all students”, said Iva Osivnik, one of the authors of the winning film in the high school category.
When asked what they learned while working on their film, member of the winning team in the primary school category, Iris Huđin, said: “We learned that the media actually serves us as an escape from reality. In the media, everything is attractive, everyone is happy and satisfied, while in real life we often must face not so attractive situations in which we sometimes find ourselves. Social networks have become an integral part of our lives and we do not perceive them as something that could pose a danger and threaten our safety. Working on the film, we learned that not everything is as magical as it seems and that we should think more about how safe we really are on social networks and how real they are.”
As part of the Media Literacy Day this year, many events will be held in kindergartens, schools, colleges, libraries, cinemas, and other institutions. A list of all events, online and live, is available HERE, and institutions that want to organize an event and get involved in Media Literacy Days can register their event at this link. On the medijskapismenost.hr portal, 33 educational brochures and 20 video lectures are available and can serve as the basis for workshops with children and young people, parent meetings and starting a conversation about media literacy. Among them is a new educational material, a workbook to support the mental health of young people “BEING YOURSELF – Being in balance in a virtual and media environment” published by the Faculty of Education and Rehabilitation Sciences of the University of Zagreb as part of the project of the same name with the financial support of the Agency for Electronic Media.
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