Interview: Children of Media Project in Croatia Wins Prize for Media Literacy

 

We spoke to Danijel Labas about the project Djeca medija (Children of Media) from the DKMK (Association for Communication and Media Culture) in Zagreb, Croatia. Danijel is the The project recently won the award of Special Jury Prize from the Evens Foundation’s 2017 Media Literacy Prize.

 

Tell us a bit about the project. What is the idea? How did it start? How many people have been involved?

The project Children of Media was established in 2008 with the initiative of communication sciences and journalism students at the University of Zagreb who participated in “Communication School” organised by professor Igor Kanižaj and I for our Croatian cultural institution “Matica hrvatska”. Three years later, in 2011 the Association for Communication and Media Culture (DKMK – Društvo za komunikacijsku i medijsku kulturu) was established by a group of student volunteers from University of Zagreb led by professor Kanižaj and I. Our idea was to build a new voluntary extracurricular media education program to educate teachers, parents and children in media literacy called “Djeca medija” – Children of Media. We have prepared, organised and implemented more than 600 workshops, lectures and conferences on media education for more than 13.000 participants in Croatia, primarily on a voluntary basis.

The project is directed towards children and youth, the academic community – students and teachers, educational institutions, families and parents, as well as minorities and the general population. The main activities are interactive lectures and media workshops that are suited for children, the youth, teachers and educators. The most common topics of the lectures and workshops are, for instance, cyberbullying, internet safety, the influence of video-games on young people, stereotypes and media representation of beauty, welcome to the world of cartoons, family and the challenges of new media, the educational and upbringing role of media and many others. Other activities include a radio show Upbringing for Ideals and creating educational and entertaining content on web-pages and the social networks of Children of Media.

What effects has it had? How is it funded?

The project has done a lot in the last few years for development of media education and media literacy, and for strengthening awareness about the importance of media literacy in Croatia. As I just mentioned, from 2008 we have delivered more than 600 interactive lectures and workshops. We have made more than 13.000 children, parents, educators and teachers media literate and we have visited more than 90 primary schools and high schools in Croatia. Furthermore, our members participate on numerous seminars and conferences, and we have written and edited a book “Children of the media – from marginalisation to sensation”have published eight educational brochures for children and the youth and a workbook manual for parents and teachers “Challenges of new media”.

DKMK’s main project, as said is called Djeca medija () and is primarily done on a voluntary basis, thanks to the huge effort of our members. Our vision is that the sustainability of the projects is made possible due to the intrinsic motivation of our members. Each one of the volunteers is participating in our regular activities without any financial support. However, our new projects received official support from the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports in 2016 and 2017. Our regular supporter is also the City of Velika Gorica. In last several years we have received their support on public calls. Our activities were supported also by the biggest public Foundation Adris, too, and other institutions and partners.

Our constant advocating activity has led to the acceptance of the Amendment to the Strategy of education, science and technology. In October of 2014 the final form of the Strategy included the term media and information literacy.

We have also organised a scientific symposiums and round tables dedicated to the Place of Media Literacy in Croatian Schools (2016) and Media Literacy for a Responsible Society (2017), in cooperation with the City of Zagreb, City of Velika Gorica and Agency for electronic media.

Besides that, ACMC successfully cooperates with different institutions, associations and projects, and is also one of the main partners of a major social responsibility initiative Šeraj pozitivu, blokiraj negativu (Share the Positivity, Block the Negativity) by Hrvatski Telekom – leading Croatian telecommunication company, whose key output will be the first national research into the levels of safety of children on the Internet, which is to become an expert base for national regulation and new policy making. Owing to this initiative lead by Professors Igor Kanižaj and Lana Ciboci, we will have the first national research that is fully aligned with the criteria of the international EU Kids Online project.

For its activity, the Children of Media project was re