Although children may seem media savvy, they often underestimate the risks that are associated with online media use. Parents, carers and schools thus have an important role to play in raising awareness about the subject.
The MediaMasters project aims to create awareness among children aged 10 to 12 of the potential impacts of media and social media and how to use them responsibly. It also creates opportunities for children to discuss media use with parents and teachers.
Its interactive game challenges players to use and advance their media skills, learning from each other. They collaborate to solve media-related problems, work on assignments, co-create media content, perform basic coding tasks, discuss media literacy themes and reflect on their own media use.
"We mainly focus on this age group because these children are already using social media, but are still willing to involve their parents in their decision making, unlike older children"
- Sarah Hijmans MediaMasters editor-in-chief, of Dutch media literacy network Mediawijzer.net, which coordinates the project.
In 2017, some 170 000 children in 6000 classes at 3000 schools – around a third of the total Dutch school population aged 10 to 12 – played MediaMasters.
Belgian organisation Mediawijs has also adapted MediaMasters for its own media literacy game, De Schaal van M.
Mediawijzer.net has more than 1000 partners, including schools, libraries, universities, research institutes, media professionals and platforms, media coaches, cultural institutions, publishers and ICT companies, some of whom contribute to the game by creating MediaMissions. Other services offered by the partners give teachers additional support in addressing media literacy, thus pointing them in the direction of specific media literacy learning methods.
Children play the game each November during Mediawijzer.net’s Dutch Week of Media Literacy, spending an hour a day on it in the classroom and completing additional assignments at home.
Making MediaMasters available all year round will enable the project to reach more pupils aged 10-12, while the target group is set to expand to include those aged 12-14 under a pilot scheme involving around 20 classes.