The emergence of digital media has changed the way and the intensity with which young people live, communicate, learn, work, and relax. Due to this widespread diffusion, it is often wrongly assumed that every young person uses digital media in a competent way or will gradually learn to do so. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Young people very often take risks when being online, are subject to manipulation and disinformation, use media as passive consumers. Providing young people with a key set of competences is important for their education and work prospects, as well as personal wellbeing in this digitised society. We aim for happy young people who are able to develop themselves further, connect with others and participate in society through digital media. The latter will also enable them to transform the society they live in.

As media education professionals we noticed a need to have a common reference framework in the field of youth work of what it means to be digitally savvy in an increasingly digitized world. We hope that EMELS will be a tool for youth workers to improve young people’s media literacy and that it will help to raise the quality of youth work and training in the field of media education. It can be used in different settings: youth-led organisations, organisations for youth, informal groups or youth services and public authorities. Want to know more on how to get started? You can find some tips and tricks on our FAQ page.

EMELS was co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union as a strategic partnership project of: Fundacja Nowoczesna Polska from Poland, JFF from Germany, Centro Zaffiria from Italy, Karpos from Greece, Ariel Trust from the UK and Imec and Evens Foundation from Belgium.

The EMELS Standard

The EMELS Standard describes media literacy as a process of preparing individuals – in this case youth workers and young people – for competent, safe and creative use and understanding of digital media. In the standard this falls down into 5 areas of digital competence:
  1. Information and data (how to search for information effectively and critically approach it);
  2. Media creation and communication (how media can be used for self-expression and creating meaning, in terms of both technical skills and creative process);
  3. Resistance and Empowerment (how to stay safe using the media, protect our rights and use media to impact wider community);
  4. Understanding media usage of children and young people (what we need to know about media and young people and where to find this information);
  5. Training skills and development (how to run media education activities and develop further).

These 5 areas are developed into 16 competences, followed by practical examples of knowledge, skills and attitudes. The competences are also complemented by best practices and training resources: materials used by colleagues all over Europe to improve young people’s media literacy skills, to guide ans inspire youth workers.

What can the EMELS Standard do for you as a youth worker?

This competence framework contributes to the ongoing discussion on the understanding and development of young people’s digital competences. The standard as such can be used by youth workers to:

  1. Self-evaluate the level of digital competences
  2. Assess the digital competences of others
  3. Set learning goals and identify training opportunities
  4. Organise and plan (digital) youth work activities

Guideline on its adoption

Although the standard benefited from the opinions and feedback of a variety of stakeholders, its applicability has is only in the early stages of testing. It is therefore likely that once applied in a real youth work context, the different areas and competences will be subject to change. And so they should be! Because the starting and ending points are not set in stone. You can use the standard as a tool for inspiration. Decide as a youth worker which competences already exist in your target group of young people and which are missing or wanted. This will enable you to achieve your mission and goals effectively and efficiently. Do you still have questions? Perhaps you can find answers on our FAQ page.