Adult media literacy literature review

11 February 2015

Ofcom is the independent regulator for the UK communications industry.

As part of Ofcom’s work to promote media literacy we plan to undertake or support a range of research activities to monitor people’s skills, knowledge and understanding of communications technologies and the content they watch and listen to either through broadcasting or online.

Ofcom defines media literacy as the ability to access, understand and create communications in a variety of contexts. We have published our strategy and priorities for the promotion of media literacy and these can be found on our website.

In October 2004 we commissioned Professor David Buckingham and Professor Sonia Livingstone to report on recent relevant academic and other publicly-available research into children’s and adults’ media literacy respectively. The purpose of this work was to outline the range of studies conducted, the gaps in research, provide examples of innovative methodologies, and outline possible barriers and enablers to media literacy identified by these studies.

These reviews have admirably fulfilled their task, and provide a stimulating point of departure for informing and refining research strategies and methodologies. Some of the recommendations can be taken forward by Ofcom; others may be more relevant to other stakeholders including content producers, broadcasters, platform and network providers, educators, government departments, parents, children’s charities and other organisations. The assumptions, conclusions and recommendations expressed in this review are those of the authors and should not be attributed to Ofcom.