Media literacy

Children’s media habits have changed fundamentally with the uptake of new digital technologies. RAC supports the development of materials to be used by teachers to equip children with the skills to be critical of advertisements. Materials are developed independently by academic experts in close collaboration with educational authorities.

Media Smart has successfully taught over five million children in the EU. Local Media Smart initiatives have been launched in Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, the Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden.

Tim Suter, former Partner, Content and Standards, Ofcom, 7 February 2006

“It’s no accident that Media Smart and Ofcom are roughly the same age. We are joined together in this task of bringing media literacy to audiences and we hugely value and support the practical work that Media Smart is doing… Investing in media literacy is particularly important as we think about how best to support audiences in the new media age and Media Smart is blazing a trail in helping our youngest audiences to feel confident in their understanding of media.”

UK government collective submission to the European Commission Consultation on Media Literacy, 6 October 2007

“This has led to Media Smart becoming the leading media literacy programme in Europe… it also stands alone as the only initiative in Europe that is endorsed by government and draws together industry resources and academic expertise into one comprehensive programme.”

Tessa Jowell, former UK Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, speaking at the ISBA Annual conference, 3 March 2004

“A discerning and sceptical audience is vital for the quality of our public life… Advertisers already know this and that’s why many companies support Media Smart, which is aimed at helping children deal with the complex messages of advertising in a critical way… However, initiatives such as Media Smart are still in their infancy and I believe that it must be seen as a floor not a ceiling, for the future. There must be more done by us, by Ofcom and by the industry more generally. There must be more done by us, by Ofcom and by the industry more generally.”

Lord McIntosh (+), former UK Minister for Media and Heritage, speaking at Media Smart’s First 1000 Days, 22 March 2005

“Media Smart’s work helps children to deal with the complex messages of advertising in a critical way and the government welcomes the advertising industry’s initiative to take a responsible role in this. I believe Media Smart’s work plays a valuable role in equipping children with the tools to make informed choices about their viewing, and to effectively use, interpret and understand what they are viewing.”

Andrew Carruthers, Ofcom, 17 September 2004

“Advertising, in all its forms, plays an important role in informing people’s choices of products and services. We welcome the industry’s efforts, channelled through Media Smart to help children understand and interpret advertising.”

Tessa Jowell, former UK Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, speaking at the launch of Media Smart, 13 November 2002

“Media Smart acknowledges the power of advertising and attempts to empower the consumer. And it is an example of an industry taking responsibility for its own actions. It is enlightened self-interest.”

What is Media Smart?

Media Smart is a media literacy programme, initially focused on advertising. Its objective is to provide children with the tools to help them understand and interpret advertising so that they are able to make informed choices.

Launched in November 2002, Media Smart was designed for primary school children aged 6-11 years old and is the first UK media literacy programme to run inside the classroom and the home using broadcast and written educational materials.

The materials are developed by independent media literacy experts. Advertisers pay for the materials, advertising agencies create the broadcast creative pro bono and the media give the airtime to promote the initiative. The European Commission’s Directorate General for Education and Culture is represented on Media Smart’s Steering Committee.

Find out more about local Media Smart initiatives:


For more information on Media Smart, please contact
Rebecka Allén at mediasmart@wfanet.org