Media literacy

Due to the quantitatively high use of today’s media, the importance of media literacy is increasing. Children and young people in particular consume media in large quantities and are exposed to the content. On the occasion of the quantitatively high use of media, there is a necessity to develop an understanding regarding media in the digital environment (Koltay, 2011).

The Center for Media Literacy defines media literacy as an educational concept for the 21st century. Followed by the definition that media literacy “provides a framework to access, analyse, evaluate and create messages in a variety of forms.” (Thoman & Jolls, 2005, p. 15). Similarities can be seen here with regard to information literacy, since the analysis and evaluation of information and access to it are addressed (Mackey & Jacobson, 2011). Moreover, a second part is added to the definition, which states that media literacy “builds and understanding of the role of media in society, as well as essential skills of inquiry and self-expression necessary for citizens of a democracy.” (Thoman & Jolls, 2005, p. 15). Accordingly, the emphasis is also placed on the social context, which demands the level of knowledge to find information and to evaluate them (Mackey & Jacobson, 2011).

Digital literacy

In their article, Mackey and Jacobson describe Paul Gilster’s definition of digital literacy. According to this definition, digital literacy can be seen as the ability to “access” and “use” networked computer resources. In addition, critical thinking is associated with digital literacy, so that the assessment of information available online is attributed a high importance. Accordingly, parallels can be drawn with information literacy, as the attributes of critical thinking and evaluation of information are usually related to information literacy (Mackey & Jacobson, 2011). Leaning (2019) notes that the attempts to define digital literacy contribute to the general understanding of literacy, but the new technologies also require new technological understanding. Leaning (2019) also mentions that aspects regarding new technologies are not sufficiently incorporated. However, the acquisition of new knowledge and skills require exposure to new technologies. 


Mackey and Jacobson (2014) describe metaliteracy as the ability to independently evaluate various competencies and the personal demand for literacies that are integrated into today’s information environment. Thus, the focus is mainly on knowledge acquisition. With the use of metaliteracy, individuals gain the competence to adjust to variable technologies and learning environments (Mackey & Jacobson, 2014). In the digital age, information literacy can be recognized as metaliteracy because it involves handling numerous documents and different media formats in a collaborative setting (Mackey & Jacobson, 2011). Repeatedly, the importance of applying critical thinking and analysis is addressed in order to apply the mentioned skills, for example, in social media environments (Mackey & Jacobson, 2014).


Koltay, T. (2011). The media and the literacies: media literacy, information literacy, digital literacy. Media, Culture & Society, 33(2), 211-221.

Leaning, M. (2019). An Approach to Digital Literacy through the Integration of Media and Information Literacy. Media and Communication, 7(2), 4-13.     

Mackey, T. P., & Jacobson, T. E. (2011). Reframing Information Literacy as a Metaliteracy. Association of College and Research Libraries, 70(1), 62-78. 

Mackey, T. P., & Jacobson, T. E. (2014). Metaliteracy: Reinventing Information Literacy to Empower Learners. American Library Association. 

Thoman, E., & Jolls, T. (2005). Literacy for the 21st Century: An Overview & Orientation Guide To Media Literacy Education. Center For Media Literacy.