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Student campaign underscores importance of digital media literacy

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Media platforms, beloved of several billions of users around the world, also harbour an ugly downside that menaces mainly, among others, children, adolescents, women, minorities, ethnic groups and other vulnerable communities.

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 Dubai chose Digital Media Literacy as their key campaign theme for their final-year project. 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 was formally launched by Mohammed Abdullah, Director General of the Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation; the Vice-Chancellor Dr Saif al Seiari, and Pro VC Dr Fazal Malik, Amity University, Dubai Campus. In attendance were students and their parents, while a sizable number of well-known journalists and media personalities from India and the Sultanate of Oman joined in virtually.

Introducing the campaign to the audience, 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.”

The campaign that launched this week will see 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. 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.

“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,” said Dr Fazal Malik, Vice-Chancellor, Amity University Dubai.

Enthused by the positive feedback from the online guests, the University has offered to make the campaign material available to schools, colleges and other institutions in the Sultanate of Oman and UAE for the benefit of their respective constituencies.

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