Media Smart initiative comes under scrutiny

The future of Media Smart, the Government-backed media literacy initiative, is set to come under review as part of the Children’s Plan, which is being drawn up by Ed Balls (pictured), the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families.

Balls has asked the Advertising Association (AA) to help review the impact of the commercial world on childhood as part of the £1bn, ten-year plan, which was announced in December.

He is expected to ask the AA to review the role of Media Smart, which aims to educate children aged six to 11, and assess whether it helps children to understand and interpret advertising effectively.

The review of Media Smart will be part of a wider evaluation of how the commercial world seeks to engage with children and will include quantitative evaluations and qualitative case studies.

Media Smart was launch≠ed in November 2002 and provides about 10,000 schools with materials to teach children about marketing and advertising.

The resources are provided by sponsors including Masterfoods, Kellogg’s, Heinz, Lego, McDonald’s, Mattell and Proc≠ter & Gamble, as well as by academics, and are devised by a board including watchdog Ofcom, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and the European Commission.

The DCSF has also said a panel of academic experts will carry out the final assessment and all responses from the industry, lobby groups and other stakeholders are due by June 30.

The result of the consultation is due to be published in the autumn.

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