As more young people turn to online platforms for content consumption, it has become increasingly important for youth to be digitally literate and responsible when consuming and using digital media. Students of the journalism and mass communication programme at Amity University, Dubai chose digital media literacy as their key campaign theme for their final-year project. Several digital media professionals, representing well-known news publications and portals in the UAE, India, and Oman attended the launch event on Tuesday. The extensive behavioural change campaign aims to sensitise students in schools and colleges, encouraging them to be mindful and responsible in their internet usage.
The campaign saw students circulating and distributing their creative material and campaign content over a period of five months through social media, podcasts, posters, workshops and street performances. The media studies department has already begun reaching out to UAE-based schools and colleges to organise interactive digital literacy workshops for adolescents and teens.
The campaign was formally launched by Mohammed Abdhula, director general of the Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation (DIDI), Dr Saif Al Seiari, vice-chancellor, and Dr Fazal Malik, PVC, Amity University, Dubai. In attendance were students and their parents, while a sizable number of online guests.
Malik said: "Watching students embark on the journey to create a campaign that grabs your attention and motivates you to act is inspiring. They have learnt and mastered a range of media and communication tools and techniques to communicate an important message that affects our community. Making a change requires commitment, time and effort; this is just the beginning of an extensive joint campaign with schools, parents and students in the UAE."
These student-led workshops will teach school students some imperative online tools and dive deeper into internet safety, cyberbullying, responsible use of online resources and more.
Seema Sangra, programme leader for the media studies department, said: "The campaign on digital literacy is part of our effort to work on projects with themes pertinent to youth and media. New media is mediated by the internet, and the internet can be an ugly place. Besides the ready-to-use information, useful networks, and immediacy of information, it has also amplified hate, personal attacks, fake news, misinformation, and disinformation, and we must build the capacity of our youth to deal with these issues, hence digital media literacy campaign."