Research revealed improvement of information literacy and critical thinking of Lithuania’s population

Date

2021 10 01

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In four years, there has been a noticeable increase in use of information and communication measures by Lithuania’s population, the Internet has become more significant than the television, and social networks have become almost as important as online news portals.

Over this period, there has been a decrease in trust in all media channels, the population has also become significantly more sensitive to inaccuracies of information or false information.

These are the main tendencies that have been revealed by a representative study of changes in the level of media usage literacy which has been carried out on request of the Ministry of Culture. The study sought to determine and evaluate the abilities of Lithuania’s population to use the media and critically evaluate the information it provides, as well as the communication skills of the population. A separate section of the questionnaire sought to examine how the residents evaluate the Lithuanian media and the information it disseminates.

The study revealed that the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions related to it have provided the impulse for more active usage of online media as well as an increase in the use of digital media and services.

In daily life, the Internet is used in almost all areas from leisure activities to usage of state institutions’ services, which have increased over the past period as well. Lithuania’s population also has a rather good understanding of the basic technical principles of safe conduct online: a great majority of Internet users have antivirus software installed, which is the most popular form of protection, use their email address responsibly, and perform additional actions to ensure protection when visiting new websites. Among other things, the study revealed that there has been a significant increase in Lithuania’s residents who understand that one may face legal responsibility for the content on the Internet.

Despite the increasing importance of the Internet, the traditional media, the television and the radio are still evaluated as significant sources of information, especially by the older population.

When using the media, residents are quite critical toward the received information: the larger part of the study’s participants notice the differences between presentations of facts in different sources of information. It is likely that the educational activities of recent years have strengthened the media users’ abilities of critical evaluation. The research participants pay increasingly more attention to fake news, while the media is perceived by their larger portion as the means to influence.

A study of such type has been conducted for the second time. It sought to determine the changes that have occurred since 2017 and to present forecasts for the future. It was predicted that the general media literacy level of the Lithuania’s population, starting from the study conducted in 2017 (when the determined level was 37.9 percent), would increase every three years as follows: 39 percent in 2020 and 41.3 percent in 2023. However, the conducted research exceeded this prediction and revealed much higher positive change: 48.7 percent.

Two target groups were surveyed in the study: permanent residents of Lithuania and representatives of national minorities living in Lithuania: Russians and Poles. Contrary to the study in 2017, no significant differences have been found between these segments.

The research was conducted for the Ministry of Culture by Market Research Centre (head of the study: Mindaugas Degutis).

l material of the research on the change in media usage literacy can be found here.

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