Nearly a third (32%) of British 12-to-15-year-olds think Web search engines rank and display sites by “truthfulness,” The Telegraph reports, citing UK regulator Ofcom’s 2009 interim Children’s Media Literacy report. It adds that “philosophers will note that the finding raises interesting moral and epistemological questions about what the children thought would happen if they searched for ‘god exists’ or ‘abortion is wrong’.” I doubt the figures would be much different on this side of the Pond, and it does appear kids, parents, and educators have their work cut out for them where media literacy’s concerned. In other findings in the 46-page report, the Telegraph points to “a small but cynical minority” (14%) of survey respondents think the Web sites with top rankings “paid to be at the top of the list”; “the large majority of parents said they trust their children to use the Internet safely – especially boys between 12 and 15″ (87%) … however, almost half” use filtering software in the home; 69% of teen respondents restrict access to their social-network profiles, up from 59% last year; and “in general parents are more concerned about the effect of the Internet on their children than they are about mobile phones, television, computer games, or radio.” And this is just the traditional kind of media literacy – about what’s read, downloaded, and consumed. Now we need to know more about what kids are thinking about what they post, upload, and produce!
Also have a look at my proposed definition of “digital literacy and citizenship”; and here’s The Register’s coverage of the Ofcom report.