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This conference examined the next steps for protecting children’s online safety and improving their media literacy.
Key stakeholders and policymakers discussed priorities for legislation as the Online Safety Bill progresses through Parliament, with provisions to strengthen online regulation, including placing a legal duty on online platforms to protect young people from harmful materials.
The conference was a timely opportunity to discuss progress on supporting and empowering children in the digital world in the context of the Online Media Literacy Strategy and its ongoing Year 2 Action Plan, alongside the launch of the Media Literacy Programme Fund.
Delegates considered the next steps for integrating media literacy education into the school curriculum at both primary and secondary levels, and assess the teacher training initiatives and levels of funding required to achieve this.
Further sessions focused on harms and misinformation faced by children online, and the future role of cross-sector coordination in tackling these issues, with calls in Parliament for the introduction of a Media Literacy Education Bill, as well as a designated Media Literacy Lead in all educational establishments.
Overall, areas for discussion included:
- the Online Safety Bill: progress and priorities - impact on children’s safety - effect on their families, schools and teachers - considerations for regulators - implications for businesses providing online connectivity and content - new measures and powers given to Ofcom to ensure compliance
- media literacy: its place in the curriculum - priorities and practicalities for embedding the teaching of media literacy in schools - assessing teaching methods - effective implementation
- duty of care: responsibilities of content providers, and social media and other online platforms - age verification and taking down content - implementation, enforcement and sanctions
- protecting children: educating children on online safety and the importance of reporting online harms - addressing the impact of misinformation and harmful content - tackling online child abuse
- the schools workforce: implementing effective teaching methods - providing teachers with the knowledge and tools to improve media literacy - recognising children who may be at risk
- parents and carers - their role in protecting children’s online safety and helping with media-literacy education - priorities for engagement and support - care for vulnerable users
- accessibility and inclusion: addressing the digital divide - assessing children’s differing online experiences - ensuring media literacy for disadvantaged young people and those with special needs
We are pleased to have been able to include keynote sessions from Josh Phillips, Head of Media Literacy Policy, Department for Culture, Media and Sport; Anwen Page, Children’s Media Literacy Project Director, Ofcom; Alison Preston, Head of Making Sense of Media, Ofcom; Carolyn Bunting, CEO, Internet Matters; Ken Corish, Online Safety Director, South West Grid for Learning; and Vicki Shotbolt, Founder and CEO, Parent Zone.
The conference was an opportunity for stakeholders to consider the issues alongside key policy officials who attended from DCMS; DfE; Home Office; House of Commons Library; ICO; IPO; NAO; and Ofcom - as well as by parliamentary pass-holders from both Houses of Parliament.