UK Safer Internet Centre Responds to the New Online Media Literacy Strategy, Launched to Combat Misinformation Online
Last week (14th July 2021) Caroline Dinenage MP, Minister for Digital and Culture, launched a new Online Media Literacy Strategy to help users make informed and safer decisions online. This includes combatting misinformation online, for instance, supporting teachers, carers, youth workers and librarians in their skills to help children and young people in their critical thinking skills to spot misinformation online.
The topic of misleading content or ‘Fake News’ is a problem that many of us face on a daily basis, not only affecting children and young people but adults as well. According to research from Ofcom, 40% of adults do not have the skills to critically assess online content. The topic is so relevant that it was our theme for Safer Internet Day 2021 which was our biggest one yet!
Part of the Media Literacy Strategy aims to offer training to those who work with children and young people, focusing on those who have particular vulnerabilities. This training will look to develop critical analysis of online content so when individuals read articles, blogs or social media posts, they understand how content works and why critical thinking is important to determine what is trustworthy or not. The skills learned can then be passed on to the children and young people in their care. At the UK Safer Internet Centre, we have found that only 40% of teachers currently have a personal development plan when it comes to teaching digital safety, so we believe this training is essential. As well as this, the Government is exploring the possibility of working with social media influencers to try to promote awareness of these skills.
Digital Minister Caroline Dinenage said:
False or confused information spread online could threaten public safety and undermine our democracy. We are legislating to make tech platforms more accountable for this, but people still need the right skills to distinguish between fact and fiction online. Through the Media Literacy Strategy, we will channel the efforts of dedicated UK organisations and bring the fight to fake news by making the young, vulnerable and wider online community more resistant and resilient to it.
The Media Literacy Strategy includes a portal where all relevant resources and support lines are available to help individuals develop their online skills. Some of the key resources included are from the UK Safer Internet Centre:
Project Evolve: ProjectEVOLVE aims to support professionals in “evolving” the online safety messages that children and young people are being taught into something more appropriate and more meaningful, that encourages reflection and generates positive outcomes.
Headstart Kernow Digital Resilience: This provides professionals and parents with supportive resources to help them make informed judgements on online harms and risks disclosed by young people. It provides a tool and a series of podcasts for professionals and parents to talk about online safeguarding issues and how to respond appropriately to them.
360safe: 360 degree safe helps schools review their online safety policy and practice. The review takes the school through each aspect of online safety, helping them to collaborate, report, and progress.
Social Media Checklists: These are downloadable booklets to guide users through their profile settings on the most popular social media and online platforms, so they are aware of how to stay safe and protect their privacy.
360Early Years: 360 Early Years is a simple tool that allows Early Years and pre-school settings to review and improve their online safety practice for the benefit of the setting itself and for the children, staff/volunteers and families.
David Wright (Director of UK Safer Internet Centre) said:
Misleading information online is a problem we find ourselves in no matter how old or how well we feel accustomed to the internet. With so many online platforms now hosting content, it falls on individuals to know what to trust. Raising awareness and building understanding of critical thinking is the first step to protect individuals and young people when navigating the online world. This strategy and the resources included are there to support those who work with children and help combat the issue of misinformation online. We hope this will be another step in the right direction to make online safety a number one priority in the UK.
Additional Resources from UK Safer Internet Centre
Childnet Digital Leaders: A peer-led online safety programme open to all UK schools and youth settings. Groups of Digital Leaders work through online modules, equipping them with the skills they need to go on to educate and support their peers. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Talk it Over: A research-led resource designed to support educators in facilitating empathetic, honest, and evidence-based conversations on online hate and how to tackle it with secondary aged pupils. email@example.com
Step Up, Speak Up: A practical campaign toolkit to address the issue of online sexual harassment amongst young people aged 13-17 years. Includes a range of resources for young people and the professionals who work with them. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Just a Joke: Resources for educators designed to explore problematic online sexual behaviour with 9-12 year olds. Focuses on online sexual harassment based on gender or sexual orientation stereotypes, body-shaming, nudity and sexually explicit content. Email: email@example.com
Digiduck: Created to help parents and teachers educate children aged 3-7 about online safety. It includes ebooks, PDFs, a poster and an interactive app. Follow Digiduck and his pals in these stories of friendship, responsibility and critical thinking online. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
STAR SEND Toolkit: The STAR Toolkit provides practical advice and teaching activities to help educators explore online safety risks with young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in Key Stages 3 and 4. Email: email@example.com