Media Smart mission ‘never been more pressing’

Media Smart mission ‘never been more pressing’

Resources from Media Smart, the UK advertising industry’s non-profit education programme, reached 845,000 young people in 2023.

Media Smart’s mission is to “equip young people with the skills and attributes to navigate media literacy today, for better employability, wellbeing and citizenship tomorrow”.

According to its latest Impact Report, published to coincide with Safer Internet Day on Tuesday, 6,000 educational resources were downloaded, backed by 36 supporters and 10 industry sectors.

Media education crucial

Rachel Barber-Mack, executive director at Media Smart, told The Media Leader: “At the heart of Media Smart’s focus is empowering young people through education, so they develop critical literacy skills to use when online, alongside advocating for a balanced lifestyle.

“Media Smart also uses the tools of social media to educate young people through campaigns to reach them when they are online. The industry can help support and champion safer internet use through signposting to media literacy resources, such as Media Smart’s, to raise the adoption and awareness of our literacy campaigns even further.”

As social media use has increased in the past decade, so has adspend in this channel. Social media adspend in the UK increased from £744m in 2014 to a forecast £8.15bn in 2024, according to figures from the Advertising Association/Warc. This translates to a jump from a 4.4% share of total adspend to a projected 21.3% this year.

Barber-Mack continued: “We all have our responsibilities in supporting young people to navigate the online world. I believe that Media Smart has never been more relevant and that there has never been a more pressing time to invest in media literacy for young people.”

She said the initiative has “made enormous strides — with measurable impact”, but that we are “just scratching the surface”.

Last year, Media Smart launched a campaign to help young people understand environmental claims in advertising that has reached 14,000 young people so far and rolled out a careers hub on its website.

Barber-Mack added that it was “increasingly important” to reach young people directly in the places where they are online with social media awareness campaigns, as well as using education resources for schools and teachers.

This year, Media Smart will launch more resources, including a scam awareness campaign with the Home Office and activity with Omnicom Media Group to raise awareness about advertising and media roles.

Ensuring that young people are equipped with the knowledge and tools for how to navigate the media and technology landscape safely and to its full potential is so essential for our industry and only continues to escalate in importance,” said Dan Clays, EMEA CEO of OMG and Media Smart chair.

“Extending our focus this year to also educating young people around career opportunities in the media and advertising industry has also been an exciting step forward for Media Smart.”

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