About media literacy
Information about Ofcom’s media literacy activities.
Media literacy enables people to have the skills, knowledge and understanding to make full use of the opportunities presented by both traditional and new communications services. Media literacy also helps people to manage content and communications, and protect themselves and their families from the potential risks associated with using these services.
In an online environment where the possibility for direct content regulation diminishes, the need for a media-literate public increases. Consumers and citizens need to be aware of the risks and opportunities offered across an array of online and mobile service activities, while stakeholders need to understand and monitor to what extent people are aware of changes and developments.
Ofcom has a statutory duty to promote media literacy under Section 11 of the Communications Act 2003. Under Section 14 (6a) of the Act we have a duty to make arrangements for the carrying out of research into the matters mentioned in Section 11 (1).
Ofcom’s definition of media literacy is: ‘the ability to use, understand and create media and communications in a variety of contexts".
Ofcom’s media literacy activity focuses on two elements:
- Providing an evidence base of UK adults’ and children’s understanding and use of electronic media;
- Sharing the evidence base with a wide range of stakeholders internally and externally, and supporting their work via research.
Ofcom’s robust research into people’s media literacy needs plays a vital role in the formulation of public policy, as well as providing organisations and agencies with the evidence they need to best target their initiatives on the ground.
- Adults’ Media Use and Attitudes: annual survey and report on adults’ media literacy, with trends over time since 2005.
- Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes: annual survey and report on children aged 3-15 and their parents, with trends over time since 2005.
- Adults' Media Lives: annual small-scale qualitative tracking research monitoring of about 18 people and their media habits, with trends over time since 2005.
- Children’s Media Lives: annual small-scale qualitative tracking research monitoring about 18 children and their media habits.
- Internet use and attitudes: annual bulletin of internet metrics relating to UK adults.
The Ofcom quarterly media literacy bulletins provide short summaries of media literacy activities by a range of organisations in the UK and overseas. These activities include research, events, projects and awards.