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Online media literacy forum gives youths digital savvy

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NGOs hold a workshop on Media and Information Literacy in Cambodia on October 25. Heng Chivoan

Online media literacy forum gives youths digital savvy

The establishment of the Media & Information Literacy Network Cambodia (MIL-KH) is an important step towards providing problem-solving and critical thinking skills to young Cambodians to help them safely use digital communications, according to Oung Chanthol, executive director of the Women’s Media Centre of Cambodia (WMC).

Chanthol made the remarks at the MIL-KH Conference hosted by WMC, DW Akademie and the Cambodian Centre for Independent Media (CCIM), held in Phnom Penh on October 25.

“After we train them, they will write articles for their communities and teach other youths so it has a lot of impact. It would be good if we could have a lot of this training here, but it’s still at a low level in Cambodia,” she said.

Chanthol said youths play an important role in society because only they could change society in the long term.

She said that youths are now very fond of using social media and watching digital media, so the establishment of MIL-KH is very important to help them think critically and become knowledgeable about the media and be able to differentiate the types of information correctly.

Chhorn Sokunthea, director of the CCIM’s Media Development Department, said the MIL-KH conference was an opportunity for journalists, bloggers, influencers, media organisations, governmental and NGOs, the Cambodian tech community, digital start-ups and other members of civil society to come together to learn about these issues and how they impact the Kingdom.

Sokunthea said social media use has steadily increased, mostly among 15-30 year-olds. That age group is also less aware of how to differentiate between truthful and false information being shared on social media, with some of them falling victim to misinformation.

“I would like to emphasise that social media cut both ways. So, MIL-KH plays an important role in helping to train and orient youths who need to have a better understanding about the benefits and harms of social media,” she said.

Kyle James, DW Akademie project manager, said the first MIL-KH conference in Cambodia had about 50 participants that discussed how to understand the types of information they encounter online.

He said that the MIL-KH was an information forum to explore various MIL initiatives in Cambodia and as a forum to discuss developments in MIL, training activities and experiences.

He said Cambodia had experienced rapid digital development in the past several years due to the increasing spread of smartphones and inexpensive Wifi, so more and more people have access to the internet, especially young Cambodians who turn to social media platforms like Facebook to stay informed and exchange ideas.

However, many still lack the media skills to seek out accurate content online, reflect on it and judge its quality.

“Only when people know how to find relevant and high-quality information online and how to protect their privacy can they use digital communication platforms without endangering themselves or others,” he said.

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