1 Faculty of Design, Technology and Communication (Universidade Europeia); Communication and Society Research Center (University of Minho) (PORTUGAL)
2 Portuguese Catholic University; Communication and Society Research Center (University of Minho) (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN21 Proceedings
Publication year: 2021
Pages: 404-410
ISBN: 978-84-09-31267-2
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2021.0124
Conference name: 13th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 5-6 July, 2021
Location: Online Conference
Children's routines are increasingly populated by the media, in its multiple formats and contents, which are configured as important agents of socialization together with family, school and peer group. There are studies that conclude that this reality presupposes a range of opportunities for those who have the skills to take advantage of media socially, professionally, politically and individually. Other researches indicate potential risks associated with media interaction, especially with regard the Internet usage, like cyberbullying, cyber predators, phishing, Internet Addiction Disorder, misinformation, among others.

In this sense, the importance of promoting the development of skills that allow children to be critical actors towards media, but also active participants and creative media producers, is highlighted. The school institutions play a major role in media literacy, especially if we take into account that media are also a source of learning. However, the task of fostering media literacy in school contexts has presented several challenges for the agents involved, specially if we consider the Portuguese context, where there is little investment in teacher training regarding the field of media literacy.

It is in this sense that the present research aims to understand the ways in which media education, and especially news literacy, can be integrated into the formal contexts of learning, so as to contribute to the development of media literacy skills among children. According to the action-research methodology, the empirical study was conducted in a school in Braga District, located in northern Portugal, during 2015, weekly, in two Elementary school classes, under the subject of Education for Citizenship, which is an opcional subject in the Portuguese school curriculum. 40 children, with an average age of 10 years old, participated in the research. Its main target was the planning, implementation and evaluation of an intervention project which was divided into three stages: i) diagnosis, ii) action and iii) evaluation. Educational activities that stimulated the interpretation of the media and current events and the development of a critical perspective towards them were carried out, avoiding situations of risk and manipulation and encouraging the use of their potentialities. Pedagogical dynamics promoted the expression, interaction, participation, creativity and the production of media contents from an inclusive and citizen perspective, placing children at the center of the learning process.

The results indicate that although children contact media on a daily basis, specially in the family context, their use is passive and not very reflective. Especially with regard to news consumption, although the children reported that they contact with the news almost daily, they showed little predisposition to reflect on the contexts in which the news are published, on its relevance to society, and on the factors that can influence the news production. In this sense, the results highlight the pertinence and relevance of integrating media literacy into school curricula, in order to help young citizens to develop their critical, reflexive and autonomous skills towards the media and the news about the world.
Media, news, children, media literacy, audiences.