Media literacy is the ability to use media in the "right" and "appropriate" way. It is a key qualification in modern society, the key skill of the high-tech sector and a basic qualification in almost all economic environments even in a crafts sector.
The term should not be reduced to technical and manual skills. It also includes cognitive, affective and conative abilities, which every "media competent" individual should have. Promoting media literacy does not only develop basic skills, but also technical skills, critical analysis and problem solving skills, competences and social skills. Media literacy can not be acquired in one step because of the progressive media development. It must be developed permanently in lifelong learning.
The aim of media literacy should be to equip people of all ages and from all social backgrounds with the skills required to access, analyze, evaluate and produce the media content, across all platforms.
A media literate user is the one, who can creatively use various forms of media handling their own personal data responsibly and the data of other users respectfully. This user is aware of being a transmitter and receiver, consumer and producer, and apprehender and learner at the same time.
Media literacy begins at home with learning how to select from the media services available, in this regard media education for parents, who play a decisive role in the development of children’s media-use habits is very important, and continues at school and during lifelong learning, and is strengthened by the efforts of national, governmental and regulatory authorities and the work of media professionals and institutions.
Media literacy is central to political culture and active participation by Union citizens - encourages active participation by citizens in democracy and the exchange of information. It offers instruments supporting integration and social cohesion and, furthermore, well-informed, politically mature citizens form the basis of a pluralist society. Digital technology is also an important learning tool for citizenship, facilitating the participation of many citizens living in peripheral areas and especially of youth audiences, allowing them to fully benefit from freedom of expression and online communication.
Media literacy promotes the dissemination of global and European culture, and intercultural dialogue.
Media literacy helps to meet the challenges posed by new media such as Internet, as it is the first and principal source of information especially for young people and the older still prefer the traditional media such as newspapers, radio and television. It is also important to realise the source of content in new media may also come from traditional type of media. So the sources and their message are what is important and what remains, just the medium is different.
Children and young people understand the Internet now as a natural instrument in their everyday life. However, they are stereotyped as the digital natives but they need guidance in developing digital skills. Media literacy strategies targeted at young people must reflect the diversity of media content and go further than children safety. It must be seen as an investment in their future and place in society.
While technical skills alone are not enough, they are still the basis for understanding and dealing with the new media. This raises the question of how different groups of people have the skills necessary to optimally exploit the potential of the Internet. Threats to the security of personal data are becoming increasingly insidious and manifold, thereby constituting a high risk for uninformed users.
In the current global environment, proper training in IT and media use enhances emancipation, autonomy and self-expression. A highly educated and literate workforce is also vital to achieve the goals of the EU 2020 Strategy for economic growth.