Making Sense of Media

Woman in home setting using laptop

Media literacy is about people and platforms. It’s about how we connect with each other, how we inform and educate ourselves, how we book medical appointments and check bank balances. We have so many different platforms and places to navigate now, we no longer go online – we are online.

Ofcom's duties

Ofcom has had media literacy duties since 2003, as set out in section 11 of the Communications Act 2003. We also have a duty to make arrangements to carry out research into media literacy matters, as set out in section 14(6)(a) of the Communications Act 2003. The Online Safety Act added clarification and specificity to our media literacy duties.

Our approach

We fulfil our duties by sharing our own insights, based on evidence and research, and by galvanising the wider media literacy community to progress and pilot activities and initiatives in support. This work builds on Ofcom’s substantial body of research into the UK’s media habits, attitudes and critical understanding.

Our longstanding research into the media use and attitudes of adults and children in the UK, as well as our longitudinal media lives qualitative reports, provide evidence on the critical evaluation skills and online knowledge and understanding among internet users in the UK.

We take a 'what works' approach in improving people's media literacy knowledge and skills using action research to test and evaluate different models. We have initiated pilot trials and campaigns supporting older adults, people living with disability, children aged 10-14 and communities experiencing financial disadvantage, and are testing 'train the trainer' and local area models to identify best-practice approaches to designing and delivering interventions.

Our aim is to provide stakeholders working on media literacy with insight from this work and our other projects, such as our discussion papers on future technology and generative AI, and tools like our evaluation toolkit.

What happens on platform at point of use must be part of the solution to the media literacy challenges in the UK. To encourage platforms of all sizes to consider how they might promote media literacy, we have created a suite of Best Practice Design Principles for Media Literacy.

Our approach is characterised by collaboration, and we do this through our Making Sense of Media Advisory Panel, and our research and evaluation working groups and our stakeholder Making Sense of Media Network.

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