2nd European Media and Information Literacy Forum is on young people and the internet. Firstly, Liva Brice, Research Assistant EU Kids Online, University of Latvia, Department of Communication Studies entitled her talk In share/ like/ friends/ contacts we trust , starting with an explanation of the situation in Latvia. http://draugiem.lv (created in 2006) is the social networking site which is the most popular in Latvia. It is the place where young people tend to start their social media life - a "safe place" where family and known friends are (people you meet every day). However, you cannot control your privacy much. Latvians tend to learn from this experience that social networks offer a safe place, so that's how they approach social networks (like Facebook) where in fact most people are people you do not already know, some of whom have bad intentions and should not be trusted.
Brice emphasised firstly the trust issue: that you tend to trust material posted by your friends, and in particular young people will automatically "like" all their friends' content to indicate their friendship. Secondly, there is the rise of the visual social networks, sharing many images through pinterest etc.: there is thus the importance of looking at MIL skills. A third aspect was the fragmented way in which people were experiencing information. Is MIL the answer? (see slide, above)
Maria Podlasek-Ziegler, Programme Manager, European Commission, then explained something about the Commission's work in this area. She talked about the importance of informal and non-formal learning (the latter being the most informal learning, which we might pick up in our daily lives). There is a publication summarising 25 years of work that was published earlier this year: Youth work and non-formal learning in Europe's education landscape which can be downloaded here: http://ec.europa.eu/youth/news/2016/0129-youth-non-formal-learning_en.htm and the EU Youth Report 2015. She also referred to the Key competences for lifelong learning in Europe published in 2006. Issues she raised included trust in the interst and lack of trust in, and lack of engagement with, formal democratic processes.
All children in the urban area had access to mobile phones, whilst in rural areas 72% boys and 64% girls have access to mobiles and the internet. Children from lower income groups were not using such an open range of media, and in particular girls might have their access to media limited. TV was the most-used traditional media in rural area, and this was less used in urban areas (where there was more use of internet/social media). Boys were using phones more than girls, mostly using it to download music, chat etc.
Finally, Sirkku Kotilainen, Professor, Ph.D., School of Communication, Media and Theatre & School of Education, University of Tampere, talked on Young people in the Limelight: toward agency through multiliteracies. Specifically she was talking about an action research project funded by the KONE foundation http://www.uta.fi/cmt/en/research/comet/projects/young-people-in-the-limelight.htm, and there are blogs (Finnish/ English) at http://blogs.uta.fi/mediakasvatus/ and also (in Finnish only) http://www.facebook.com/nuoretestradille/. The people in the research are mainly 15-20 year olds who have some problems e.g. unemployed, with language problems. Goals of the research include "developing media education which supports participation and the voice of young people, including skills in MIL". The projects sites are in various parts of Finland, with the young people creating media and they are encouraged to publish them in social media and through mainstream media. Outputs include theatre, films, photographs. Preliminary results include that workshops have increased indepence, social and MIL skills; workshops have strengthened motivation to participate locally and opened up cultural and social activities; however there is a challenge in integrating the protective and the empowering aspects of the project (since the vulnerable children are being made more visible, whereas laws etc. focus on protecting them). Additionally, to work on young people's right for media participation you also need to interact with adults to negotiate and so that the adults can become "empowerment agents".