Media literacy in a social
media culture.
Hadewijch Vanwynsberghe, Steve Paulussen &
Pieter Verdegem, IBBT-MICT, UGent
EMSOC
• EMSOC project
– User Empowerment in a Social Media Culture
– Inclusion, literacy & privacy
– Empowerment= enabling people to control their own
lives and to take advantage of opportunities (Van Der
Maesen, 2002).
– Website: www.emsoc.be
• Focus: to develop a framework to
measure media literacy (definition +
conceptual model)
Why media literacy?
• Concerns about ‘the media’
are not new
• New media technologies 
new challenges and new
questions
• (new) Opportunities & risks
Why media literacy?
• End 20th century: digital inequalities in access
• Flanders 2010:
Penetration/ ownership (IBBT, 2010)
86.10%
96.70%
81.00%
55.70%
Computer
Internet
connection
Digital television
• New digital inequalities:
– Participation gap
– Transparency problem
– Ethics challenge
Mobile phone
What is media literacy?
• Several definitions of media literacy
• Media literacy:
What is media Literacy?
• “ The ability to access, analyze, evaluate and
create messages across a variety of
contexts.” (Livingstone, 2004, p. 5)
What is media Literacy?
• European Commission: “media literacy is the
competence to cope, autonomously and critcally,
with the communication and media environment
established within the consequense of the
‘information society” (EAVI study, 2009, p. 21)
• EC makes a clear distinction between two
dimensions:
– 1) Individual competences (for example: technical
use, critical understanding and social skills)
– 2) Environmental factors (for example: media
education, policies and regulation, media availability)
(EAVI Study, 2009, p. 32)
What is media literacy?
• Knowing how to keep personal
information private
• Knowing that cyber bullying
is as bad as bullying in real
life
What is media literacy?
• Differentiate between media
violence and real world violence
• Recognize bias and
stereotyping in the media
What is media literacy?
• Consume and produce
media messages for civic
engagement
What is media literacy?
• Understanding how
media messages are
constructed
• Knowing which online
information is reliable and
knowing how to recognise
correct information
What is media literacy?
• What is the purpose of media
literacy (training)?
Empowerment
“enabling people to control their own
lives and to take advantage of
opportunities” (Van der Maesen &
Walker, 2002, p.6)
• A challenge of the information
society: ensure that ALL people
are empowered enough to deal
with the opportunities and risks
digital media pose.
Measuring media literacy
Before we can do something about the digital inequalities
(example: media training), we must first have a good
understanding of the existing level of ML of different groups
and people in our society (= measure media literacy)
• But first: know wherof media literacy is built  create a
conceptual framework of media literacy
Analysis of existing literature
• Media literacy:
– Skills (Steyaert, 2000; Van Dijk, 2005; Van
Deursen, 2010)
– “Media literacy does not attach itself to a
simple technical skill …” (EAVI, 2009,
p.22):
– Knowledge (Silverblatt, 1995; Messaris,
1998; Potter, 2004)
– Attitudes (Tondeur et. al., 2010; Verdegem &
Verhoest, 2009)
– Self-efficacy (Brandtweiner et. al., 2010)
“One’s capability to organize and execute the
courses of action required to manage prospective
situations”. (Bandura, 1995, p.2)
• Media competences =
• Competences vs skills:
“The terms ‘competence’ and ‘key competence’ are preferred to ‘basic
skills’ which was considered too restrictive as it was generally taken to
refer to basic literacy and numeracy and to what are known variously
as ‘survival’ or ‘life’ skills. ‘Competence’ is considered to refer to a
combination of skills, knowledge, aptitudes and attitude, and include
the disposition to learn in addition to know-how.” (Martin & Grudziecki,
2006, p.256)
Analysis of existing literature
• Level of media literacy further determined by
media use:
– Access ≠ use (Brandtweiner et. al., 2010)
– Convergence: technology not coupled to the content
(Jenkins, 2006)
– Context (Hartmann, 2006)
Analysis of existing literature
• Level of media literacy also determined by
influences from the environment (= external
variables):
External
variables
– Social influences (Venkatesh, 2003)
– Training (Livingstone & Bober, 2004; Martens, 2010;
Jenkins, 2006)
– Social support (Bakardijeva, 2005; Stewart, 2007; Van
Dijk, 2005)
– Parental mediation (Rosen, 2008; Valcke, Bonte, De
Wever & Rots, 2010; Bauwens, 2009)
Building blocks of media literacy?
Socioeconomics &
demographics
Media
competences
Media use
External
variables
Conceptual model (work in
progress)
Correa (2010), Durndell
(2002), Hsieh et. al. (2008),
Livingstone & Bober (2004),
Tondeur et. al. (2010)
Fulk (1993), Valcke et al.
(2007), Hobbs & Frost
(2003), Jenkins (2006),
Martens (2010) , Robinson
et al. (2003)
Van Deursen & Van Dijk (2008),
Davis,(1989), Verdegem &
Verhoest (2009), Ajzen (1985),
Ferro et. Al. (2010), Meneses &
Momino (2010), Livingstone &
Helsper (2007), etc.
Venkatesh (2003), Valente
(1995), Fleming et. al.
(2006), Valcke et. al. (2007),
etc.
The …… of the conceptual model
• Going beyond a skills-based approach
• Providing a broad interpretation of skills
• Media literacy as its core (skills, knowledge & attitudes)
is separetely described in the model as competences
• Taking into account media use (access and use
technology and content) and the context of media use
• Having attention for external variables
• Going beyond traditional socio-demographic and socioeconomic variables to describe digital inequalities
• Media-independent
Measuring media literacy?
– Survey
– Observations
– Experimental design
– Interview
 Combination of quantitative and qualitative
research methods: Multitrait-Multimethod
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