Media literacy must become an essential element of the process of education

For the second year in a row the Media Literacy Coalition is organizing a campaign connected with children’s safety in the digital media environment. The media literacy days, 2019 (4 February – 10 March) aim to help identify fake information via various initiatives and targeted training, with the ultimate objective of forming critical thinking skills among school-goers and students of journalism at universities.

The campaign also involves parents in the process of acquiring literacy skills. Thanks to a special academy for parents they will find out, for example, how to introduce their children to the internet and what the best age to do so is. Every one of the participants will find out how to create a safe internet environment and what precautions can be taken before the child is given access to the digital world. Red Cross volunteers and experts from the Safe Internet Centre will create a video “Five facts about lies” which will be made available on social networks. The interactive programme also includes different competitions, all of them focusing on the verification of facts and their sources.

Кристина Христова“Anyone can sift through information as long as they have a trained critical eye,” says Kristina Hristova, coordinator at the Media Literacy Coalition. “Children are as susceptible as adults. The important thing is to teach them to think, to analyse the information they are using, as they would the food, the clothes or the devices they choose to buy. In the same way that they want to know where the product comes from and who the manufacturer is, they should learn to recognize sources of information.”

Kristina Hristova says analysis and the formation of critical thinking skills are given insufficient attention in educational programmes. That is the reason why the Media Literacy Coalition aims to bring together different kinds of specialists whose expertise and experience can be made use of to develop new methodologies which can then be offered to the Ministry of Education.

Fake news is a problem that has been spreading across the world like wildfire, and children are especially vulnerable when they are online, especially if they lack the basic skills to swim in the virtual ocean of information. According to UNICEF data, 87 percent of Bulgarian children surf the internet regularly, and that is why the coalition is hoping to see media literacy become an integral part of the process of education as a separate subject, but also as an additional tool to be used in all other subjects taught at school:

“This opens the way to a critical analysis of information, the skills to handle information, a creative approach, and wards off the risks of the internet. These are all elements that should be scrutinized all the time and in different forms,” says Kristina Hristova.

The perils of the internet are well known, and have been for a long time. According to data of the Ministry of Education, 8,000 instances of bullying at school were registered in 2016 and 2017 alone. The instances of cyberbullying in 2016 account for 38 percent of all bullying, which means an increase by 25 whole percent compared to 2010, the ministry says.

English version: Milena Daynova


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