Purpose of the research: to access the level of media literacy among different groups of the population in Kyrgyzstan
Target audience: men and women above 16 who live in Kyrgyzstan.
Survey sample: a multistage cluster stratified sample representing the population of Kyrgyzstan by sex, age and type of settlement covering 1,200 people in seven localities (urban and rural areas) and two major cities (Bishkek and Osh), at least 48 villages .
Conclusion on the results of the survey:
The results show that the consumption of news content through social networks and messengers is growing dynamically. Most respondents find it increasingly difficult to determine the reliability of information, where the truth, and where the fake. At the same time, majority of the population does not realize this by deliberately consuming and disseminating such information. Most respondents have a low awareness of the need for responsible consumption of information and behavior in the Internet space. The global trend, when there is a decline in the consumption of information from television and the consumption of information from the Internet is growing, and in Kyrgyzstan, it becomes relevant among different age groups.
Television remains the main source of information for the majority of respondents. 97.2% of
Kyrgyz citizens reported that they watch TV every day, several times a week or several times a month. 75.3% of Kyrgyz citizens watch TV on a daily basis. The percentage of those who watch
TV is the highest among respondents over 52 years old. Young people under 24 also watch TV but only entertainment films, shows. The amount of time spent by young people on watching TV is significantly smaller than the amount of time spent in messengers. News is the most popular type of content consumed by the respondents on television and in newspapers. This statement however does not include youth. Young people show more interest in entertainment (music, movies, shows), as well as in sport.
Significance and relevance of this study
Increasingly, in the contemporary period, the era of information, technologies are being developed and used to influence publics; the role of information has become prominent. Its collection, processing, dissemination and use is one of the main production activities. Wide spread of digital technologies removed barriers preventing access to information within and between countries in the world. Communication actors and sources of information have changed: mass media is no longer the main source of information, while states have lost their monopoly over information about themselves and compete for the opportunity to be the first to inform. New actors in the information field are social networks that have turned Internet users into sources and channels of news. The evolution of methods and sources of information transmission and reception has brought to life such phenomena as “fake news” and “post-truth”, which reflect perception of information by individuals. Large flow of information and news pumped into the information space including through social media caused audience fatigue and changed their consumption habits. The essence of these changes boils down to the fact that information appeals to emotions and beliefs while individuals find themselves overwhelmed with large volume of information available online and sometimes exposed to malevolent information which is particularly risky for minors.
Being part of global processes, Kyrgyzstan has been increasingly facing the problem of “fake news,” the growing influence of social networks and new formats of media consumption. Every year the number of Kyrgyz citizens who speak foreign languages: English, Turkish, Arabic, etc., grows. Consequently, the number of Kyrgyz citizens consuming news from foreign mass media grows as well; in addition, they acquire new patterns of media consumption. However, along with this, the problem of “fake news” is implicated by the fact that the majority of Kyrgyzstanis, do not read or watch news in the original language. Language barriers often prevent them from going to the original source of information to check accuracy of the translation. This in turn limits the plurality of accessible media sources. For instance, during the conflict in Myanmar, which dominated news headlines in September 2017, social networks were abundant of fake messages. These false and distorted pieces of information were widely debated in Kyrgyzstan, particularly among people of faith. Fake news were emotionally charged and resonated with the Kyrgyz audience who fell prey to these falls facts. In this light, content risks, it is also important to note the risk of spreading violent extremism in Kyrgyzstan. Without critical thinking skills, ability to analytically evaluate information, and basic fact checking skills, users remain vulnerable to extremist ideology in social networks. In the long run, the threat of these factors can expand from a single person to security of a country.
Therefore, this new situation in media requires a more complex set of skills for information consumers. Efficiency of communication and exchange of information depends on the ability of consumers to find and evaluate information, to establish cause and effect relationship within information flows, to resist manipulations and to protect themselves from unreliable data, as well as to produce and disseminate content. Thus, evolution of the information society determines the need to develop new skills and qualities. These skills, necessary for a modern person, is described in the definition of media literacy adopted by the European Union in 2009: “Media literacy can be defined as the ability to receive, analyze and evaluate images, sounds and messages that we encounter daily, and which form an important part of our modern culture, as well as the ability to responsibly communicate in the accessible media and create media content. Media literacy applies to all media, including television and cinema, radio and music, print media, Internet and other new digital communication technologies.”
Based on this definition, it can be considered that today media literacy in some extent is associated with human rights and one of the most important skills of a modern person. Media literacy is represented by certain criteria of personal development such as the level of information culture (ability to work with information) and the level of perception, understanding, as well as interpretation of media texts (critical thinking).
For Kyrgyzstan with relatively free media resources, but weak institutional capacity of the market, the task of determining the level of media literacy is important, especially against the background of general deterioration in education, spread of propaganda and risks of social instability. The results of this research can provide an actual basis for the development and implementation of media literacy programs that will help the citizens of Kyrgyzstan to understand how media filters their views and beliefs, form a popular culture and influence the individual choice. Moreover, the data collected in the course of the research allow to subsequently track the changes.