Thought Leadership

Media Smart publishes impact report

The non-profit education programme is highlighting the resources it has for young people, parents and teachers to mark Safer Internet Day

Nicola Kemp

Editorial Director Creativebrief


Social media bosses being accused of having blood on their hands at the US Senate Judiciary Committee hearings earlier this year underline the growing focus on the negative impact of social media on young people’s mental health. For parents and policymakers alike the dark side of social media is increasingly impossible to ignore.

It is an ecosystem which makes Safer Internet Day (Tuesday 6th February) a moment of focus. With this focus in mind the non-profit education programme, Media Smart has launched its 2023 Impact Report, which highlights the resources it has provided young people, parents and teachers.

The report comes as Media Smart’s Executive Director, Rachel Barber-Mack, featured on a special podcast to mark Safer Internet Day, from the British Association for Screen Entertainment (BASE) and The Digital Entertainment Group International (DEGI).

Useful tools for Safer Internet Day covered by Media Smart include a wide range of films and resources to educate young people about advertising literacy, with subjects such as influencer marketing, body image, piracy & intellectual property, information on creative careers, as well as tips on navigating TikTok and Instagram.

Media Smart’s latest report highlights the importance of investing in media literacy for young people as technology continues to progress at pace with tools such as AI coming to the fore.

Last year saw the programme launch a campaign to help young people understand environmental claims in advertising. It also evolved its mission to inspire young people into the working world of advertising through the launch of a new careers hub on its website.

This year, Media Smart aims to launch further resources including a scam-awareness campaign in partnership with the UK Government’s Home Office, and a careers campaign in partnership with OMG UK, to raise further awareness of advertising and the media as a realistic career choice for all young people.

Rachel Barber-Mack, Executive Director at Media Smart, explained: “We all have our responsibilities in supporting young people to navigate the online world. I believe that Media Smart has never been more relevant, and that there has never been a more pressing time to invest in media literacy for young people. Media Smart has made enormous strides – with measurable impact – in this area, but I also believe we are just scratching the surface. Media Smart traditionally created education resources to reach out to schools and teachers for use in the classroom. It’s increasingly important we reach young people directly in the places they are hanging out online to educate them through social media awareness campaigns too.”

Dan Clays, CEO of OMG EMEA and Media Smart Chair, added: “Ensuring that young people are equipped with the knowledge and tools for how to navigate the media and technology landscape safely and to its full potential is so essential for our industry and only continues to escalate in importance. Extending our focus this year to also educating young people around career opportunities in the media and advertising industry has also been an exciting step forward for Media Smart.”

Earlier last year Baroness Beeban Kidron OBE spoke at the Conscious Advertising Network’s (CAN) Conscious Thinking Live event in London, sharing the importance of the recently passed Online Safety Act. 

She highlighted the role of product design in creating ecosystems in which children fall victim to the attention economy. This harm by the very functionality of platforms and products is a complex issue.

In the balance of freedom of speech against safety Kidron, a filmmaker and Chair of the 5Rights Foundation, believes that technology brands are falling short of their responsibilities. She explained: “There is a moment where we are saying enough. Tech companies talk a good game on change then they fight anything meaningful in the courts.”

She urged progressive brands and agencies to keep pushing for safer online environments. “Please keep your voices loud and proud, that is really important. The voices of this community are really important,” she added.

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