Digital Media Literacy

The ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and create media.

Media literate citizens are better able to understand the complex messages we receive from all forms of media. It empowers citizens with knowledge, skills and attitude to critically access information and media, to critically analyze information and media content and to engage with media and other information providers for social, civic and creative purposes.


Media Literacy

A media literate person can decode, evaluate, analyze and produce both print and electronic media. The fundamental objective of media literacy is critical autonomy relationship to all media. Media literacy is concerned with developing an informed and critical understanding of the nature of the mass media, the techniques used by them, and the impact of these techniques.

European Commission, 2007; Koltay, 2001, Aufderheide, 1993

Another definition used by the EU: “Media literacy is the ability to access the media, to understand and to critically evaluate different aspects of the media and media content and to create communications in a variety of contexts.”

Definition of media literacy by the European Commission as cited in O’Neill 2010: 327)

In accordance to this definition, the various levels of media literacy include:

  1.  Feeling comfortable with all existing media from newspapers to virtual communities; actively using media, […] use of Internet search engines or participation in virtual communities, and better exploiting the potential of media for entertainment, access to culture, intercultural dialogue, learning and daily-life applications (for instance, through libraries, podcasts);
  2.  Having a critical approach to media as regards both quality and accuracy of content (for example, being able to assess information, dealing with advertising on various media, using search engines intelligently;
  3. Using media creatively, as the evolution of media technologies and the increasing presence of the Internet as a distribution channel allow an ever growing number of Europeans to create and disseminate images, information and content;
  4.  Understanding the economy of media and the difference between pluralism and media ownership;
  5. Being aware of copyright issues which are essential for a “culture of legality”, especially for the younger generation in its double capacity of consumers and producers of content.

European Commission, 2007

Digital Literacy

(Digital information literacy)

Digital literacy is the awareness, attitude and ability of individuals to appropriately use digital tools and facilities to identify, access, manage, integrate, evaluate, analyze and synthesize digital resources, construct new knowledge, create media expressions, and communicate with others, in the context of specific life situations, in order to enable constructive social action; and to reflect upon this process.

Martin, 2006: 19

The four core competencies of digital literacy are:

  1. Internet searching;
  2. Hypertext navigation;
  3. Knowledge assembly;
  4. Content evaluation.

Bawden, 2008

What’s the difference between media literacy and digital literacy from the education standpoint?

Enables youth to be critically engaged consumers of media

Enables youth to participate/engage in digital media in a safe, wise and ethical way

Gutiérrez & Hottmann, 2006; Candidates Centre for digital and media literacy, 2019

Digital Citizenship

The notion of digital citizenship has evolved to encompass a range of competences, attributes and behaviours that harness the benefits and opportunities the online world affords while building resilience to potential harms. It refers to the ability to engage positively, critically and competently in the digital environment, drawing on the skills of effective communication and creation, to practice forms of social participation that are respectful of human rights and dignity through the responsible use of technology.

Council of Europe

Digital Skills

The ability to use, access, filter, evaluate, create, program and share digital content. […] Engagement with digital technologies and content requires a reflective and critical, yet curious, open-minded and forward-looking attitude to their evolution. It also requires an ethical, safe and responsible approach to the use of these tools.

Council of the European Union, 2018

Information and Communications Technology (ICT)

ICT is a term that carries the quality of being open to multiple definitions. Occasionally, it is not uncommon to find the term ICT being employed to refer to Information Technology (IT). However “ICT […] represent[s] a broader, more comprehensive list of all components related to computer and digital technologies than IT” … thus, in sum, ICT can be defined as or refers to “the infrastructure and components that enable modern computing”.

Rouse, 2017


“Literacy […] can be seen as the process of identifying typographic symbols representing phonemes”.

Westbrook 2011: 156

“The concept of literacy mean[s] having the skill to interpret “squiggles” on a piece of paper as letters”.

Thoman and Jolls 2004: 18

“Literacy […] has come to mean the ability to understand information; however presented”.

Lanham 1995: 198

Media Competence

This is a “term coined by German sociologist Baacke [which] can be analyzed in four dimensions: (1) knowing about different media and how to use them, (2) reflecting the role of media in society, (3) designing media, and (4) critical thinking”.

IGI Global 2019

Media competence is often understood as a section of communication competence which enables a person to orientate oneself in a mediatized world and to get to know the world actively with the assistance of media.

Baacke 1996 as cited in Jooyeun 2017

Aufderheide, P. (1993): Media Literacy: a report of the national leadership conference on media literacy. Aspen, CO: Aspen Institute. 

Bawden, D. (2008), ‘Origins and concepts of digital literacy’, pp. 17-32. in C. Lankshear, and M. Knobel, M. (ed.), Digital Literacies: concepts, policies and practices, Peter Lang, New York, NY.

Hobbs, R. (2019): Defining digital literacy. Published on: (10.02.2019).

European Commission (2007) A European approach to media literacy in the digital environment. URL (consulted July 2009):

Martin, A. (2006) ‘Literacies for the Digital Age’, pp. 3-25 in A. Martin and D. Madigan (eds.) Digital literacies for learning. London: Facet.

Gutiérrez Martín, A.G., Hottmann, A. (2006) Media Education across the Curriculum. Kulturring in Berlin e.V. URL (consulted July 2009):

IGI Global (2019): What is Media Competence, (accessed 21.02.2019): Retrieved from

Jooyeun, P. (2017): Media Literacy, Media Competence and Media Policy in the Digital Age, presented at 2017 Hawaii University International Conferences. Honolulu, Hawaii: Retrieved from

Koltay, T(2011): The media and the literacies: media literacy, information literacy, digital literacy. In: Media Culture & Society, Vol. 33, No. 2, 2011, 211-221. http://

Lanham, R. (1995): Digital Literacy. Scientific American, 273(3), 198-200. Retrieved from

O’Neill, B. (2010) ‘Media Literacy and Communication Rights’, International Communication Gazette, 72(4–5), pp. 323–338. doi: 10.1177/1748048510362445.

Rouse, M. (2017): Definition: ICT (information and communications technology, or technologies). Published on: (accessed: 21.02.2019).

Thoman, E. and Jolls, T. (2004) ‘Media Literacy—A National Priority for a Changing World’, American Behavioral Scientist, 48(1), pp. 18–29. doi: 10.1177/0002764204267246.

Westbrook, N. (2011): ‘Media Literacy Pedagogy: Critical and New/Twenty-First-Century Literacies Instruction’, E-Learning and Digital Media, 8(2), pp. 154–164. doi: 10.2304/elea.2011.8.2.154.