Bildung - Politik

2/2009 - Computerspiele


AutorIn: David Buckingham

Media literacy education is currently at a point of transition. It is a point of opportunity, certainly; but it is also one of risk and danger. It is a point at which we need to be very clear about our aims and priorities – because if we are not clear about where we are going, we are very likely to lose our way.

As my title suggests, the challenges here are partly about technology – but only partly. There is a good deal of loose talk about the promise and impact of technology; and this is particularly the case when we talk about young people – the so-called ‘digital natives’ we hear so much about. Yet technological change is always also about cultural, social, economic and political change. Current changes in the media environment are not just about technology, but also about how identities are formed and lived out in modern societies. So in talking about technology, we need to be careful that we do not accord it an all-determining power.

In fact, my primary focus here is on policy. I will be concentrating mainly on policy at the European level – although I will take an occasional detour into the situation in the UK. I want to look at two key areas, which have so far been developing rather in parallel: media literacy and digital literacy. They share the term literacy, and to that extent there are some obvious connections between them – although, as in many other areas, the notion of ‘literacy’ is often rather loosely applied here. In fact, these two policy initiatives seem to have come from rather different directions, and to have rather different concerns and aims. While there are some good reasons for bringing them together, this is also likely to entail some difficulties and challenges.

I have been involved in various ways in policy initiatives in both of these areas; and although I am critical in some respects, it is not my intention to attack the individuals who have been responsible for them. To paraphrase an old German philosopher, policy-makers make policy in conditions that are not of their own choosing. I want to read policy not as the expression of individuals, but as symptomatic of broader social, economic and political trends – and indeed of some of the contradictory tendencies that are at work.



Media literacy policy

Let us begin with media literacy. Here is a recent quotation from no less a person than Viviane Reding, the European Commission’s Information Society and Media Commissioner:

"In a digital era, media literacy is crucial for achieving full and active citizenship… The ability to read and write – or traditional literacy – is no longer sufficient in this day and age… Everyone (old and young) needs to get to grips with the new digital world in which we live. For this, continuous information and education is more important than regulation."[i]

It is interesting to note the emphasis here on digital media – and also that information and education seem to be set up in opposition to regulation, or at least as an alternative to it. I shall return to this issue below.

At the European level, there have been many signs that media literacy is becoming a priority for policy-makers. There is mention of media literacy in the key document, the European Audiovisual Services Directive (2007); and over the past couple of years, the Commission has been moving steadily towards the formulation of a binding policy on media literacy. There was an official ‘communication’ on media literacy in late 2007; followed in 2008 by a study of current trends in the field; and a ‘recommendation’ in Summer 2009.[ii] The latter is entitled the ‘recommendation on media literacy in the digital environment for a more competitive audiovisual and content industry and an inclusive knowledge society’. The move from a communication to a recommendation is a sign that progress is being made – and that pressure will eventually be exerted on national governments as well.

However, the rather incoherent title of the recommendation flags up a problem. In this document, and in other similar texts – for example, the Commission’s study of Current Trends and Approaches to Media Literacy, published last year – one can find a vast range of ideas about what media literacy is. Among other things, media literacy seems to involve:

  • Developing skills in handling technology;
  • Encouraging appreciation of the European audio-visual heritage (albeit one which is typically identified only with the cinema);
  • Protecting children against harmful content, and developing their awareness of online risk;
  • Promoting the inclusion of hitherto excluded groups in using technology, and in the ‘knowledge society’;
  • Promoting independent public service media;
  • Enabling people to resist commercial persuasion, and raising awareness of new marketing practices;
  • Encouraging active citizenship and participation in civil society;
  • Promoting creative and artistic self-expression through the use of new media, and enabling people to communicate with audiences;
  • Delivering the subject curriculum in more exciting and relevant ways for ‘twenty-first century learners’;
  • Promoting equality of opportunity, tolerance and diversity – and even human rights;
  • Encouraging the development of a globally competitive European media content industry;
  • Helping people to make informed economic decisions as media consumers;
  • Training workers (or developing ‘human capital’) for the emerging media and technology industries of the ‘knowledge economy’.

Media literacy, it seems, is a skill or a form of competency; but it is also about critical thinking, and about cultural dispositions or tastes. It is about old media and new media, about books and mobile phones. It is for young and old, for teachers and parents, for people who work in the media industries and for NGOs. It happens in schools and in homes, and indeed in the media themselves. It is an initiative coming from the top down, but also from the bottom up. In these kinds of texts, media literacy is also often aligned with other contemporary ‘buzzwords’ in educational and social policy. It is about creativity, citizenship, empowerment, inclusion, personalisation, innovation, critical thinking… and the list goes on.

On one level, this is all good. None of us would be likely to argue for exclusion or uncritical thinking or disempowerment – or, for that matter, media illiteracy. But therein lies the problem. As the Americans would say, this is all motherhood and apple pie. Or, to be even more cynical, it is a form of policy marketing-speak: it is about selling media literacy on the back of a whole series of other desirable commodities.

Having been involved in these initiatives myself, I recognise the need for precisely this kind of marketing. We are competing with other people with very different priorities and imperatives, making very different kinds of claims. We need to get ourselves noticed; and so we need to be making an urgent and enticing offer. However, as we do this, we also recognise that it must entail compromises; and it can require a strategic refusal to define what it is we really mean – because if we say what we mean, then we run the risk that some people might not agree with us. In some circumstances, this can mean offering hostages to fortune – making claims that we know to be false or inflated and that we know we cannot possibly deliver. And in some circumstances, this confusion can represent a potentially fatal mistake.

The Commission’s study of Current Trends and Approaches is quite explicit about the problems this can cause. However, it seems to believe that this can be resolved by yet more authoritative policy documents that will somehow settle the matter once and for all – as if the tablets of stone defining media literacy and laying down the criteria for assessing it will come down from on high and finally tell us all what to think. Personally, I doubt that.


Why media literacy now?

Why has media literacy risen up the policy agenda in the last five years or so? After all, some of us have been making this argument for twenty or thirty years – and for much of that time it seems to have been falling on deaf ears. Why has it suddenly become so prominent now?

We can find some clues to that by looking at the situation in the UK. In 2003, we had a new Communications Act that (among other things) created the new regulatory body Ofcom, the Office of Communications. Surprisingly for many people, Ofcom was charged with the responsibility to ‘promote media literacy’ – something that had never been seen as a government priority before. Ofcom’s definition of media literacy – ‘the ability to access, understand and create communications in a variety of contexts’ – has been widely adopted internationally.[iii]

Ofcom has sometimes been termed a ‘super-regulator’, in that it brought together the regulation of broadcasting and of telecommunications – itself of course a sign of changing technological times. Yet in fact the Communications Act was largely about deregulation – about reducing governmental regulation of media, and handing greater power over to market forces. So, it removed obstacles to cross-media ownership, and to global media companies operating in the UK market. Ofcom’s role is primarily as an economic regulator, a regulator of the market, rather than a content regulator.[iv]

In this context, it would be possible to interpret media literacy as a familiar neo-liberal strategy. In a deregulated, market-driven economy, the argument goes, people need to be responsible for their own behaviour as consumers. Rather than looking to the government to protect them from the negative aspects of market forces, they need to learn to protect themselves. What does it matter if Rupert Murdoch owns the media, if we are all wise and critical consumers? And so media literacy becomes part of a strategy of creating well-behaved, self-regulating ‘citizen-consumers’ (to use Ofcom’s term): it reflects a shift from public regulation to individual self-regulation that we can see in many other areas of modern social policy.

Of course, this comes packaged as a democratic move – a move away from protectionism and towards empowerment. But it is also an individualising move: it seems to be based on a view of media literacy as a personal attribute, rather than as a social practice. Indeed, it could be seen to place a burden on individuals that they might not necessarily be disposed or able to cope with. And while it gives people responsibilities, it does not also extend their rights: it positions them as consumers rather than as citizens. It has become the duty of all good consumers – and, when it comes to children, of all good parents – to regulate their own media uses.[v]

Even so, those of us who have been pushing for media literacy for many years have seen this as a great opportunity. We have found ourselves in the unusual position of being able to inform, if not shape, the development of policy – although it should be noted that media literacy has largely remained a concern for media regulators, and has yet to make significant headway in terms of educational policy. Furthermore, five years on from the creation of Ofcom, the climate is starting to change in some respects: media literacy is actually slipping down the policy agenda, or at least being reformulated, for reasons I shall explain below.


Digital literacy policy

The term ‘digital literacy’ seems to have appeared on the policy agenda even more recently, although in fact it is far from new: one can look back 15 or 20 years to arguments about ‘computer literacy’, and even before that to debates about ‘information literacy’. In the past year, the European Commission has published a Working Paper on Digital Literacy, along with the Recommendations of a High-Level Expert Group (of which I was a member). It has funded research and development projects; and it has also commissioned a very thoughtful and comprehensive study of digital literacy initiatives by the Danish Technological Institute.[vi]

It is important to recognise that this initiative starts from somewhere rather different. If media literacy is essentially a regulatory initiative, digital literacy is primarily about inclusion. The challenge here – at least as governments see it – is to ensure that everyone is part of the so-called ‘knowledge economy’, or the ‘information society’. In terms of Ofcom’s three-part definition, the key issue here is essentially one of access rather than understanding or creation. The aim is to overcome the obstacles to participation, and ensure that everyone has the skills they need to use technology effectively. In the documents, digital literacy is frequently defined as a ‘life skill’ – a form of individual technological competence that is a prerequisite for full participation in society. If you lack the skills, you are by definition disadvantaged; and the key aim for policy is to ensure that those who are most disadvantaged are brought up to speed. That includes those who are socially disadvantaged in other ways, to do with class or gender for example, as well as the elderly and the disabled.

Participation is clearly seen here as a good thing in itself – although it is often rather loosely defined. In practice, participation seems to be largely confined to basic functions such as accessing e-government, job seeking, finding health information, online training, paying your taxes, and of course shopping. It stops quite a long way short of the kinds of democratic participation that some of the more enthusiastic proponents of digital activism find so exciting. The skills that are involved here are also essentially functional or operational – ‘how-to’ skills. There are levels of skill, but even the higher levels seem to be primarily about being able to operate more complex equipment or applications, or more intensive forms of use. So, for example, at level 1, you are able to plug in your computer; at level 2 you can complete your income tax return online; while at level 3 you can edit your videos and upload them to YouTube (where Google will then own them in perpetuity). This is perhaps best epitomised in the ICT ‘driving test’, which is often taken to be synonymous with digital literacy.

Although there is occasionally some mention here of the ability to evaluate online information, the approach is generally a very limited one – it is about checking sources, and distinguishing between fact and opinion, as though this were simply a straightforward, mechanical process. The central focus is on retrieving information, rather than evaluating it – as though information was simply a neutral good, waiting to be collected.  Indeed, the notion of information itself is absolutely central here. The fact that much of what people do online or with digital technology is not really about information at all seems to be largely ignored. The image of the ideal user here seems to be that of the responsible and efficient information-seeker. It is an image that contrasts quite strikingly with what young people mostly do with technology, which is largely about accessing entertainment content, chatting with friends, or playing games – or indeed with downloading TV, movies and music.

There seems to be an implicit assumption here that using technology is essentially and inherently beneficial – at least once we have dealt with some of those troublesome issues about privacy and safety. Technology is somehow inherently empowering: if only we can persuade people to use it, it will automatically promote innovation, creativity, learning and social harmony. People are excluded because they lack technological skills: once they acquire those skills, they will be automatically included. So the more people use technology, the more digital literacy there will be – and indeed, in a circular way, the use of technology is in itself seen as a measure of people’s digital literacy. (This is a peculiar assumption, for example when compared with television: do we assume that people who watch more television, or have access to more television channels, are more media literate than those who watch less?)

The issue of measurement is particularly critical here – and for public bodies spending the taxpayer’s money, that is entirely understandable. But when we measure digital literacy (or indeed media literacy), what are we measuring? To come back to the UK, Ofcom undertakes an annual media literacy audit, which like most of its other research is commissioned from a market research company. The media literacy audit is designed to serve as a kind of benchmark: when the government wants to know how effective Ofcom has been in its duty of promoting media literacy, Ofcom needs to be able to show it some numbers. But what is being measured here, and in the digital literacy reports, is almost entirely about access and about functional or operational skills. How frequently do people go online? How many functions do they use on their mobile phone? How efficient are their online search skills?[vii]

This is not to suggest that such technical skills are unimportant. Nor is it to imply that the broader objective of inclusion is one to be rejected – on the contrary. Despite the technocratic view that is apparent here, the policy documents are by no means naïve about this. Digital exclusion is not seen as a simple or straightforward matter, in which people are either ‘in’ or ‘out’. The use of technology is understood in relation to the social contexts in which it is used, and the motivations and purposes people have in using it. There is a suitably complex view of the role of intermediaries and organisations, and a recognition of people’s different approaches and needs in terms of learning.  Yet ultimately, digital literacy seems much more narrowly defined, and much more instrumental, than the rather grandiose aspirations that characterise discussions of media literacy. It has very different objectives, and a very different view of media or technology – and of what people need to learn about it.


Coming together

So what might be the grounds for combining media literacy and digital literacy? This is a suggestion that is made quite explicitly in the Recommendations of the High-Level Expert Group on Digital Literacy – and on one level, it might be seen as quite politically expedient. In increasing numbers of countries across Europe, ICT enjoys a level of governmental endorsement and commercial support that media literacy has never achieved – and indeed will never achieve. The reason for this is partly because technology is seen to offer a magical solution to social problems – and this is true of many areas besides education. However, it is also because commercial technology companies see schools as a significant market opportunity. We have seen a massive, unprecedented level of investment in digital technology in schools; and this has been possible because of the comprehensive penetration of schools and educational policy-making by business interests.[viii]

Indeed, in some ways, we might be forgiven for thinking that ICT has simply overtaken us. We are still insisting on the importance of media literacy, while ICT is being relentlessly pushed into schools whether they like it or not – and indeed with very little evidence that it improves the quality of learning, or even represents good value for money when compared with other approaches. We need to be very wary – and indeed overtly critical – of much of this; but in political terms, it represents an opportunity that we cannot afford to pass up.

However, there are some good reasons for combining media literacy and digital literacy that go beyond mere political expediency. The most obvious of these is about convergence. I would argue that information and communication technologies should really be seen as forms of media: in fact many people refer to them as simply ‘new media’ - although the distinction between old and new is not always helpful either. Digital resources – websites, computer games, online environments – mediate the world, just like books and films and TV: they are media. Likewise, the distinction between digital and non-digital technologies is fairly insignificant. Most media – even books and newspapers – involve the use of digital technologies at some point, either in their production or in their distribution or consumption. Media increasingly combine different modes of communication, and operate across many technological platforms. To this extent, there would seem to be very little logic for separating these things.

Indeed, media education is in a position to provide a more extended approach to critical literacy here. Rather than checklists for distinguishing between fact and opinion, which is the digital literacy approach, media literacy offers a much more comprehensive set of conceptual and critical tools. I have written elsewhere about how those tools might usefully be applied to analysing digital media like websites or computer games.[ix]

At the same time, media literacy has something to learn here from digital literacy. Although the digital literacy agenda is narrower in some respects, it does help to move media literacy towards a more socially inclusive approach; it puts issues to do with civic participation and citizenship more strongly on the agenda. It also forces us to think more about lifelong learning, rather than just about children and young people; and about contexts other than schools. There is always a danger that critical media analysis will end up simply reinforcing a kind of superficial cynicism – a view of the media as somehow just purveyors of lies and propaganda. That kind of view is very easy for students to slip into – particularly middle-class teenagers, I would suggest; and it is one that can end up rationalising a kind of apathy.[x] The argument about digital literacy takes media literacy away from a focus just on critical analysis and towards the possibility of social action. New technology offers the potential for students to speak to audiences beyond the classroom; and for media educators to engage with their community, and to intervene, in new ways.

There are also good reasons to do with learning and teaching. Those of us who are old enough to remember the trials of analogue media making in schools have good reason to feel excited about the new opportunities for creative media-making that are being offered here. This is partly just about accessibility – about cheapness and ease of use; but it also has benefits in terms of learning. The most exciting promise here is not just about people having more opportunities to make their own media. It is also to do with bringing theory (or critical analysis) closer to practice (or media making) – and these are two dimensions of media education that have often been seen as quite separate. Digital video editing, for example, makes explicit the kinds of choices we have to make as we select and combine images into sequences, and then add sounds and music; and in that sense, it can allow for a kind of critical practice, or practical critique. Of course, it does not always do so – and there are many instances of quite unthinking or at least haphazard uses of digital editing. But in the right pedagogical context, with the right questions being asked, technology offers possibilities for a different, more challenging, kind of critical practice.[xi]


Reasons to beware


So there are some good educational reasons for media educators to engage with digital literacy; and some politically expedient reasons as well. But there are also some very good reasons to be careful. The first, and most crucial, is that we run the risk of resurrecting an old and well-established confusion between teaching about media and teaching through media. This is a confusion I encounter when I go into schools and people assure me that they do a lot of media education – and then proceed to show me their computer suite as evidence of this. It is a confusion that is apparent when people talk about ‘twenty-first century literacy’ – and seem in fact to mean that they are using computers (or even films) as a way of teaching reading and writing.

The risk here is that we are using media merely as a delivery system – a teaching aid - or even simply as a means of motivating children to learn something that we think is more important. Media become the vehicle, the means or the pretext for other kinds of learning that are really nothing to do with the media themselves. This is fair enough in its own right, but it is not media education. Media education is not the same thing as educational media. In this respect, the use of the word literacy can be quite profoundly confusing: developing media literacy is not the same thing as using media to develop print literacy. Teaching through media and teaching about media are not necessarily or inherently incompatible. But the danger here is that media come to be used in functional or instrumental ways – that the critical questions we ask as media educators (about who creates media and why they do so, about how media represent the world, and how they work) tend to be marginalised or ignored.

My second concern here is that many adults are somehow intimidated by the arguments around technology – and seem to be particularly likely to buy into the popular mythology of the ‘digital generation’. The idea that children today are ‘growing up digital’ – that they are ‘digital natives’ while we are just ‘digital immigrants’ – is born of a kind of fear. Children, according to this view, already spontaneously know everything they need to know about these technologies. Adults, on the other hand, are engaged in a pathetic struggle to catch up. This kind of argument is routinely rehearsed in public policy debates; and yet there is very little evidence to support it. Old media, especially television and popular music, are still central to most young people’s lives; and the idea that they are somehow naturally skilled and knowledgeable in their dealings with new technology is very questionable. This kind of argument overstates and misunderstands the differences between generations, and plays into a prevalent sentimentality about childhood.[xii]

This can also be the case for media educators, who are sometimes seduced by the ease of using technology, and the very polished and professional-looking results that students can achieve. For some, the critical edge of media education seems to be losing out to the wonders of creative media-making: all that close critical analysis – all that boring discussion and writing – is just so much less exciting and sexy than pushing images around on a screen. Of course, it is vital to recognise the creative potential of digital media; but it is important to insist that media education is not about making media for its own sake. Here again, there is a risk that the productive and creative aspects of media literacy will become disconnected from the key objective of critical understanding.

My third concern is around the participatory potential of so-called social software or ‘Web 2.0’ – blogs, wikis, user-generated content, video- and photo-sharing, citizen journalism, and so on. For some, these developments seem to represent a fundamental cultural shift, away from a situation where the media were controlled by powerful elites, to one in which control is now in the hands of ordinary people. However, in the wave of enthusiasm about the imminent total democratisation of the media, several questions seem to have been ignored. If we look at who is engaging in these participatory activities, we find that it is largely the ‘usual suspects’ – those who are already privileged in other areas of their lives, in terms of economic or educational capital. Indeed, the danger here is that technology may simply accentuate existing social inequalities rather than helping to overcome them. We must also not forget that many of these developments are driven by commercial interests, and indeed by a small number of increasingly powerful global media companies. The apparently participatory possibilities of new media make it a much more effective means of targeting consumers, and gathering information about them; and this is why advertisers and marketers are now starting to spend more and more of their money in the digital realm. Here again, it is vital that we keep asking the ‘old’ critical questions about media, rather than sliding off into a kind of technological euphoria.[xiii]


Shifting ground

Thus, while there are some good reasons to welcome the combination of media literacy and digital literacy, there are some equally good reasons to be wary about it. We also need to be alert to potential changes in the policy climate. In the UK at least, one can detect signs that policy makers are starting to shift away from media literacy and towards a narrower focus on digital literacy. I can provide two very recent instances of this.

In July 2009, the UK government published a review of the primary school curriculum, which is likely to set the agenda for significant reform in the future.[xiv] There is a great deal to be said about this, of course; but one very striking thing is how it appears to be opting for digital literacy rather than media literacy. In almost 200 pages, the document makes 72 references to ICT, and precisely none to television – despite the fact that watching television is still by far primary school children’s major leisure-time pursuit. This suggests to me that the problem for policy-makers is not to do with technology, but with popular culture. They are happy to buy into a technocratic rhetoric about the transformative power of technology; but they still find it very hard to address the realities of most children’s everyday lives.

My second example is from cultural policy, rather than educational policy. Also in the summer of 2009, the government published its ‘Digital Britain’ report, which makes a comprehensive set of proposals for bringing the UK into the digital age.[xv] This is very much a technocratic document: it is about using technology to promote Britain’s economic competitiveness, to create a skilled workforce, and to engage with the ‘information revolution’. Here the shift from media literacy to digital literacy is very explicit. The report says that media literacy is ill-defined and fragmented (and it may well be right about that); and it argues that there should be a move away from media literacy towards what it calls ‘digital participation’. It proposes a National Plan for Digital Participation that looks set to replace media literacy on the policy agenda. This approach also seems to have some endorsement from Ofcom – although Ofcom’s role is likely to be much reduced after the coming election. This view of media literacy as digital participation is also one that the media industries find much more palatable. For example, broadcasters have always been less than happy with the idea of people studying or critically analysing what they do; whereas the idea of giving them some limited hands-on experience of media production is the kind of token gesture they seem to find much more comfortable. In both these cases, there are signs that digital literacy (or ‘digital participation’) may be coming to replace media literacy, rather than combining with it.


What next?


How might media educators respond in this situation? Do we need, as some of the policy documents imply, some kind of common European framework for media literacy? Do we need checklists, benchmarks and indicators that will enable us to assess and compare levels of media literacy? Do we really need more policy documents?

The European Commission’s state-of-the-art report on Current Trends and Approaches certainly seemed to think so. I would agree with its recommendations that we need more teacher training, better quality teaching materials, opportunities for students to engage in production, and more critical evaluation and research. But it also proposed many more recommendations, about quality standards for media content, the involvement of regulators, citizens’ forums, measures to protect the audio-visual heritage, pan-European networks, public awareness campaigns, and so on. While there is a good deal we might find to support in such a list, it is nevertheless much too diffuse.

In my view, there is now an urgent need to sharpen our arguments, and to focus our energies. There is a risk of media literacy being dispersed in a haze of digital technological rhetoric. There is a danger of it becoming far too vague and generalised and poorly defined – a matter of good intentions and warm feelings, but very little actually getting done. We can end up with lots of networking and dialogue, but no actual substance – a great deal of participation, but little action, and no significant change.

Although I do not have a recipe or a magic solution, I do believe that schools should remain absolutely central to what we are doing, if only because that is where all young people compulsorily spend so much of their time. thThe school is the key public sector institution that ought to support the rights and actions of citizens; and despite the predictions of some technological enthusiasts, it is not going to disappear any time soon.

I believe we have good reason to congratulate ourselves on what has been achieved in media literacy education; but we also need to evaluate it, and we must have the courage to be critical of it too. We need to engage with regulators, media companies and politicians – but we should be doing so from a position of strength, where we are clear about our own aims and priorities.


This paper is based on a keynote presentation at the Second European Congress on Media Literacy, Bellaria, Italy, 21-24 October 2009.

[i] Quoted in press release: Media literacy: do people really understand how to make the most of blogs, search engines or interactive TV?

[ii] Information on these developments can be found at:

[iii] For information on Ofcom’s approach to media literacy, see: The definition in fact derives from an older US definition: Aufderheide, P. (ed.) (1997) ‘Media literacy: from a report of the national leadership conference on media literacy’, pp. 79-86 in R. Kubey (ed.) Media Literacy in the Information Age New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.

[iv] For some critical commentary on Ofcom’s role, see: Freedman, D., The Politics of Media Policy. Cambridge: Polity, 2008; Harvey, S., ‘Ofcom’s first year and neoliberalism’s blind spot: attacking the culture of production’. Screen, 47(1), 91-105, 2006; and Livingstone, S., Lunt, P. and Miller, L., ‘Citizens and consumers: discursive debates during and after the Communications Act 2003’, Media, Culture and Society, 29(4), 613-638, 2007.

[v] I have developed this argument in my article ‘Beyond the Competent Consumer: The Role of Media Literacy in the Making of Regulatory Policy on Children and Food Advertising in the UK’, International Journal of Cultural Policy 15(2): 217-230, 2009.

[vi] See and

[vii] Reports from the Media Literacy Audit can be found at:

[viii] For further discussion, see my Beyond Technology.

[ix] See my book Beyond Technology: Children’s Learning in the Age of Digital Culture (Cambridge: Polity, 2007), especially Chapter 8.

[x] See my edited book Teaching Popular Culture: Beyond Radical Pedagogy (London: UCL Press, 1998).

[xi] For some examples of this kind of classroom work, see Andrew Burn Making New Media: Creative Production and Digital Literacies (New York: Peter Lang, 2009).

[xii] For critiques of this argument, see: Buckingham, D. ‘Is there a digital generation?’ in D. Buckingham and R. Willett (Eds.), Digital generations: Children, young people and new media (pp. 1-17), Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 2006; Herring, S. ‘Questioning the generational divide: technological exoticism and adult constructions of online youth identity’ in D. Buckingham (Ed.), Youth, identity and digital media (pp. 71-92). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2008; and Sue Bennett, Karl Maton and Lisa Kervin ‘The “digital natives” debate: a critical review of the evidence’, British Journal of Educational Technology 39(5): 775-786, 2008.

[xiii] I discuss these issues more fully in ‘Do we really need media education 2.0?’, in K. Drotner and K. Schroder (eds.) Digital Content Creation (New York: Peter Lang, in press). A more enthusiastic, but still measured, account can be found in: Jenkins, H. with Clinton, K., Purushotma, R., Robison, A. J., and Weigel, M. (2006) Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century MacArthur Foundation,

[xiv] This can be found at:

[xv] This can be found at: The key discussion of media literacy and digital participation is on pages 39-41.


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