MEDIA EDUCATION OF CHILDREN AND YOUTH AS A PATH TO MEDIA LITERACY

Štúdia 4. 02. 2019, Božena Šupšáková

This study focuses on the issue of media education of children as a part of media literacy, offering an overview of the current theoretical framework related to the given topic and an analysis of various research findings presented by renowned scholars in Slovakia and abroad. The author also offers results of her own research which aimed to obtain necessary information on the topic, to analyse and evaluate media, traditional as well as the new media, as a part of free time activities of primary school children in Slovakia. This research, supported by findings of other researches, shows that television and the Internet are dominant within media which are used by primary school children for gathering information. From the point of view of personal communication with friends and family, it can be said that the face to face communication is in many situations replaced by telephone calls or text messages. Further on, the study aims to find out about how pupils identify with different types of media and its contents. The last part of the text deals with different approaches to media education of the countries in the European Union, which served as a basis for developing the idea of media education in Slovakia. In the last part of the study, the author deals with media education as such and as an essential part of school curriculum, further on, analysing approaches of media education in other EU countries and describing the actual situation in Slovakia. The article thus shows how the media education contents in primary education could be updated so they fit recent trends and the current ‘media’ age.

Globalisation has brought a wide development of information and communication technologies (particularly the Internet in everyday life). It establishes a new paradigm for the media literacy and social skills of individuals. Already in the 1920s, mass communication became a global phenomenon helping to form the state of the current global environment. Images and sounds became the basic elements of the mass media reality, which were forming the social and political arena of modern society.2 More than fifty years ago, Marshall McLuhan, who was legitimately marked by historians as a herald and conjuror of the electronic age and the electronic revolution, argued that “every new technology is simply an evolutionary and biological mutation, which opens up new doors of perception and new fields of behaviour for mankind.”

Apparently, the time has come for the adoption of a new literacy − a media literacy − through acquiring and adopting a new set of social skills, including familiarising ourselves with cyber interactions and, most recently, achieving a sense of self-fulfilment within the multimedia online space. The media literacy takes this series of new communication skills, including the ability to search for, to select, to analyse, to evaluate, to create, and thus pass on information in a variety of formats − via word, image, sound, and, recently, through using the multimedia formats − by integration of all these elements.  Media literacy is defined by most policymakers and academics as the ability to “access, analyse, and evaluate media” in multiple forms and “communicate competently” within these forms. Traditionally, education, training and lifelong learning policies have been perceived as critical for developing media literacy. Therefore, any future interventions in this area must take into account the fact that media messages are constructed, have a purpose, may be affected by potential biases, and are subject to regulatory issues that potentially affect access and use.

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