DOI: ri14.v18i2.1460 | ISSN: 1697-8293 | July - December 2020 Volume 18 No 2 | ICONO14

Cultural practices and media competence levels of young Brazilians

Prácticas culturales y niveles de competencia mediática de jóvenes brasileños

Práticas culturais e níveis de competência midiática de jovens brasileiros

Gabriela Borges Ph.D

Assistant Professor
(Federal University of Juiz de Fora)

Monica Fantin Ph.D

Associate Professor
(Federal University of Santa Catarina)

Márcia Barbosa da Silva Ph.D

Assistant Professor
(State University of Ponta Grossa)

Maria Alzira Pimenta Ph.D

Assistant Professor
(University of Sorocaba)

Soraya Maria Vieira Ph.D

Associate Professor
(Federal University of Juiz de Fora)


This article presents the results of the research project “Media skills in Brazilian and Euro-American settings” conducted with 14 to 16 years old from public and private schools in six Brazilian cities. It was developed by the member universities of the Euro-American inter-university research network on media literacy for citizenship (ALFAMED) in Brazil. From a quantitative and qualitative perspective, it assessed the levels of each of the six dimensions of media competence (Ferrés and Piscitelli, 2015) of 499 students, taking into account their cultural practices. The results indicate that young people learn informally how to deal with media, have advanced level in the handling of technology and in language, aesthetics and ideology and values dimensions. However, in the dimensions of processes of interaction and of production and diffusion, which are related to consumption and media participation, they are at the basic/intermediate level, indicating the need for formative actions to promote learning and the development of critical thinking.

Key Words: Media competence; Media literacy; Media education; Citizenship; Civic participation; Media consumption


Este artículo presenta los resultados de la investigación “Competencias mediáticas en escenarios brasileños y euroamericanos” realizada con jóvenes de 14 a 16 años de escuelas públicas y privadas en seis ciudades brasileñas. Fue desarrollada por las universidades miembros de la Red Interuniversitaria Euroamericana de Investigación en Competencias Mediáticas para la Ciudadanía (ALFAMED) en Brasil. La investigación cualitativa cuantitativa evaluó los niveles de cada una de las seis dimensiones de la competencia mediática (Ferrés y Piscitelli, 2015) de 499 estudiantes, teniendo en cuenta sus prácticas culturales. Los resultados indican que los jóvenes aprenden informalmente cómo tratar con los medios, tienen un nivel avanzado en el manejo de la tecnología y en las dimensiones lenguaje, estética e ideología y valores. Sin embargo, en las dimensiones procesos de interacción y de producción y difusión, que están relacionados con el consumo y la participación en los medios, se encuentran en el nivel básico/intermediario, lo que indica la necesidad de acciones formativas para promover el aprendizaje y el desarrollo del pensamiento crítico.

Palabras clave: Competencia mediática; Alfabetización mediática; Educación mediática; Ciudadania; Participación ciudadana; Consumo de medios


Este artigo apresenta os resultados da pesquisa “Competências midiáticas em cenários brasileiros e euroamericanos” realizada com jovens de 14 a 16 anos de escolas públicas e privadas de seis cidades brasileiras. Foi desenvolvida pelas universidades integrantes da Red Interuniversitaria Euroamericana de Investigación en Competencias Mediáticas para la Ciudadanía (ALFAMED) no Brasil. De caráter quali-quantitativo, avaliou os níveis de cada uma das seis dimensões da competência midiática (Ferrés e Piscitelli, 2015) de 499 estudantes, tendo em conta suas práticas culturais. Os resultados indicam que os jovens aprendem informalmente a lidar com as mídias, possuem nível avançado no manuseio da tecnologia e nas dimensões linguagem, estética e ideologia e valores. Porém, nas dimensões processos de interação e de produção e difusão, que estão relacionados com o consumo e a participação midiática, encontram-se no nível básico/intermediário, indicando a necessidade de ações formativas para promover a aprendizagem e o desenvolvimento do espírito crítico.

Palavras chave: Competência Midiática; Literacia midiática; Mídia-educação; Cidadania; Participação cívica; Consumo Midiático

1. Introduction

The diversity of media and cultural practices that young people build in their relationships with digital culture in today’s world has challenged research and training. After all, in an era where media and technological devices have increasingly been at the heart of people’s relationships, professionals in the field of education and communication have come to face several challenges, such as understanding what young people do with media and their technologies. What do they watch, produce and share? How do they relate to and use digital technologies? What competencies do they hold? What is the role of reflection in these practices?

In digital culture, Buckingham (2005) states that media literacy is the knowledge and skills that students acquire in the teaching-learning process on media, which necessarily involves ‘reading’ and ‘writing’ media in the sense of reflection, critical understanding and active participation (pp. 4). From the perspective of new literacies, the complex interfaces between linguistics, anthropology and epistemology are fundamental to understand the relations between social practices and their negotiations of meanings in the context of convergence of media, technologies, and languages. From this relationship emerges the idea of information literacy, which is also linked to the concept of media and digital literacy (Rivoltella, 2008, 2010). These multiple literacies relate to the sense of citizenship, participation and democracy, as it requires knowledge on how to use the Internet, as well as its functions and codes, on how to access, select and certify information produced, consumed, transmitted on the Internet and its networks, considering the reliability of websites and the competence for the use, creation/production and sharing of digital content in a responsible way.

This process implies a reconceptualization of technologies beyond the instrumental view of visual, electronic, and digital media, the idea of multiliteracy redefines the articulation of concepts and fields critically, expanding into various forms of expression. “ … The knowledge, skills and competencies required for full participation in contemporary society, and all view these abilities as fundamentally tied to the intellectual and social practices known as literacy” (Hobbs, 2006, p.20).

These concepts and their interpretations suggest that changes in the teaching-learning process imply dialogue, negotiation, polyphony, openness, flexibility, criticism, and collaboration in a transformative perspective that requires the development and construction of certain competencies.

Referring to the concept of competency, Rivoltella (2005) emphasizes the importance of meta-competences in digital culture, and highlights three lines of action: i) to explain and problematize tacit competencies to be aware of certain processes; ii) to develop the capacity for reflection; and iii) hold competence of competences, which are multiple and varied and favor the development of meta-competence, understood as the ability to organize different dimensions (pp. 4).

In the broader framework of the eight key competences proposed in various documents of the European Union (2006, 2018) and the European Commission (2019): 1. Literacy (mother tongue); 2. Multilingualism; 3. Numerical, scientific and engineering skills; 4. Digital and technology-based competences; 5. Interpersonal skills, and the ability to adopt new competences; 6. Active citizenship; 7. Entrepreneurship and 8. Cultural awareness and expression – it is possible to discuss the specificity of children and youth media skills, which relate to and/or include digital skills. In fact, the document DigComp: The European Digital Competence Framework (European Commission, 2018) defines five areas of activity: information and data literacy, communication and collaboration, digital content creation, safety and problem solving.

Garcia-Ruíz and Pérez and Gomez (2014, p. 16) clarify the historical path of several international organizations in different countries (OECD, UNESCO) in which media education in schools is seen as a possibility to improve access to media and technologies.

Media literacy and education have, thus, become a basic need, which has led to the promotion of a critical, active and plural education around the media (Aguaded, 2012; Gutierrez & Tyner, 2012), whose objective is to increase citizens’ awareness of the multiple forms of messages disseminated by the media that can be found in their daily lives (European Commission, 2009) (Garcia-Ruíz, Pérez and Gomez, 2014, p.16).

In the Definition of the European Commission, media competence refers to the capacity to access media (including television, cinema, radio, press, the Internet and all other digital communication technologies), to have a critical understanding of the different aspects and content and create communication in a variety of contexts, explains Aguaded (2012, p.8). And, following this understanding, Ferrés and Piscitelli (2015) emphasize the importance of designing media education in an active, participative, and ludic way.

From this perspective, the concept of media competence refers to “a combination of knowledge, skills and attitudes that are considered necessary in a given context” (Ferrés & Piscitelli, 2015, p. 3).

Although it is understood that the phenomenon of communication and all human practices and relationships are complex and are constantly inter-related, Ferrés and Piscitelli (2015), updating a study by Ferrés (2007,p. 103), elaborate six dimensions to better understand the construction of media competence: language (plural, multimodal and multimedia sense); technology (tools/functions); aesthetics (sensitivity/creativity); production and dissemination processes (how, why, what for and for whom it is produced); ideology and values (recognition of content conveyed to messages and stereotypes included); interaction processes (interaction with messages received) and aesthetics (formal and thematic analysis with aesthetic sense and its relationship with other manifestations). These dimensions must be understood interrelatedly and within the scope of analysis (which refers to how people receive and interact with messages) and expression (concerning how people produce messages from their own understandings of the world).

Based on this framework developed by the research, henceforth are highlighted some aspects related to consumption and cultural practices with regard to media competence dimensions of young Brazilian students.

2. Material and Methods

The research “Media competences in Brazilian and Euro-American scenarios”1 was developed between 2014 and 2019 by members of the ALFAMED - Brazil2 network. Conducted in conjunction with the University of Huelva in Spain and articulated with other research network countries, the research seeks to raise the demands related to competencies at national level for later comparison with results obtained by other network countries (Borges & Silva, 2019).

The aim of this research is to investigate the levels of media competence of different segments: children from 9 to 12 years old, teens from 14 to 16 years old, young university students, university lecturers and communication professionals. Under the coordination of Federal University of Juiz de Fora, each university was involved in the research from subprojects that included at least two segments according to the characteristics of the research groups involved. This article focuses on the segment of young people aged 14 to 16 years old, with the participation of six universities in data collection.

The methodology used started from a qualitative-quantitative approach (Creswell, 2010). In the field of social sciences, the research approaches have been mostly qualitative, aiming at understanding the processes of meaning and highlighting the perspective of the participants (Schneider, Fujii & Corazza, 2017). However, it is understood that numerical and quantifiable data can contribute to the understanding of social phenomena. Gatti (2004) stresses that the articulation of quantitative and qualitative data contributes to the understanding of research situations and alerts to the importance of the “researcher’s effort of reflection to give meaning to the material raised and analyzed” (pp.13).

This research is exploratory-descriptive in nature with data collected through questionnaires (Hernández Sampieri; Fernández-Collado; Baptista-Lucio, 2013; Gil, 2008) with the objective of understanding the levels of media competence and analyzing how the audiences under study behave in the Brazilian context, an approach still under-studied in the country.

The research consisted of different articulated and complementary stages. The initial stage aimed at providing training to the teams in each of the universities and study groups led by local coordinators. The studies included the themes: media literacy, media competences and media-education from a Brazilian perspective to be compared with Spain and Latin America. The second stage included the elaboration of data collection instruments (questionnaires) in Portuguese and Spanish for the different segments of the research. The third stage involved the application of the questionnaires in Brazil and other countries participating in the research, and data validation, later carried out by the University of Huelva.

For the application of the questionnaires, public and private schools in each region were contacted and procedures related to the free and informed consent of the students and their guardians were followed. Students had access to the questionnaire through an online application developed by the Spanish team. Most schools made computer labs available for research.

In the next step, the data were statistically treated, and the results were assessed. At first, the data for each dimension were analyzed, and then the data related to the levels of competence were organized through values corresponding to the following categories: basic, basic/intermediate, and advanced. Data were also cross-checked according to gender, age, type of school and education in order to verify the variations that occurred in these categories. The results are presented below.

The questionnaire consisted of 27 open and multiple-choice questions, with the purpose of tracing students’ profiles and evaluating the development of media competence. After the application of the questionnaire in schools, in person and with the monitoring of the project team, the answers obtained were organized in an Excel file3 and, afterwards, the data were systematized with the R software.

The questionnaire was divided into two stages, initially the student answered nine questions related to their profile, such as gender, age, city, school, etc. In a second moment, the questions were directed to the six dimensions of media competence suggested by Ferrés and Piscitelli (2015): language, technology, interaction processes, production and dissemination processes, ideology and values and aesthetics, which included three questions, totaling 18 questions.

The research was conducted with 499 students, between 14 and 16 years old, from high schools in six4 Brazilian cities, Brasília (DF), Florianópolis (SC), Juiz de Fora (MG), Ponta Grossa (PR), São Roque (SP) and Sorocaba (SP).

Figure 1: Respondents.
Source: Prepared by the authors (2019).

In order to organize the data5, and obtain consistent information, a standardization of variables was made by the most frequent name, this action was necessary because respondents inserted different forms for the same school or city, i.e. MG, MINAS GERAIS or Minas Gerais, and so on. After debugging the database, the open source and free distribution statistical software R ( was used to generate the first results. Consequently, Crosstab software and Chi-square6 test were used for a refinement of the data, which facilitated the reading of the levels of competence and the crossing of these levels according to the variables of the profile of the respondents.

3. Results

The profile of the research participants is composed of young people between 14 and 16 years old, 53.31% of them are female and 46.69% are male. According to the survey data7, 67.74% of the students attend public schools, 25.5% are from the private network and 6.21% are from the private network with public funding. The sociocultural profiles of each context participating in the research vary widely, involving a diversity regarding the origins of class, social conditions, ethnicities, geographical origins, and cultural capital, which hinders certain generalizations.

Figure 2: Survey sample. Source:
Prepared by the authors (2019).

Figure 3: Age of respondents.
Source: Prepared by the authors (2019).

Figure 4: Types of schools.
Source: Prepared by the authors (2019).

Regarding the equipment and services they had access to and/or were available, the survey shows that 96.99% of students have a television set, 93.59% have a smartphone and 80.76% have a computer/notebook. The items video camera and digital camera were respectively 46.69% and 61.32%, and are probably included in other devices with the same function. Mp38/mp49 players were the least marked, with only 31.46%, as per chart below.

Figure 5: Equipments/Devices students have access to and/or available.
Source: Prepared by the authors (2019).

From this context, we discuss the results found in the analysis of each of the six dimensions of media competence.

3.1. Technology

The technology dimension refers to the ability to manage technological innovations that enable multimodal and multimedia communication (Ferrés & Piscitelli, 2015, p. 10). The questions seek to understand ways of use and knowledge of respondents on Internet searches, as well as use of software and applications. Regarding the criterion of choice of browser, 65.13% of students answered that speed is a determining factor. The second criterion cited by the respondents was navigability resources (15.83%). Regarding how they search for information, students were asked what words they would write on a search engine (Google, Bing, etc.) to research the literary stages of Gabriel García Márquez. According to the answers, 37.88% of the young people marked the option “Literary stages Gabriel García Márquez” and 34.27% chose to segment the search using the quotation marks (“”) between the search term “The literary stages of Gabriel Márquez”. When asked if they used software and/or applications to edit images, 54.91% answered “yes”. Thus, it can be concluded that respondents have a critical understanding of the digital environment and can edit images with the use of programs.

Regarding the levels of media competence, the technology dimension presented the highest percentage of respondents at advanced level.

Figure 6: Media competence levels of Technology dimension.
Source: Prepared by the authors (2019).

Regarding the gender category, 60.70% of females and 56.60% of males obtained an advanced level, showing a balance in this dimension regarding the gender issue. In relation to age, it was possible to perceive a gradual growth of the advanced level according to age: 14 years (52.60%), 15 years (58.90%) and 16 years old (65.70%), indicating that accumulated experience helps in grasping this dimension.

In relation to the type of school attended, the highest percentage of advanced level students was registered in private school (66.4%), followed by public school (56.60%) and the publicly funded sector (50%), evidencing a balance between the advanced and basic/intermediate levels. Regarding training, the answers point to a balance between those who are at advanced level and have learned to use technology through workshops (71.4%) and those who claim to be self-taught (70.4%). On the other hand, 64.9% of those who are at basic/intermediate level stated that they learned with teachers.

3.2. Language

The language dimension covers the ability to interpret and evaluate various codes of representation, as well as being able to modify existing products giving them a new meaning and value (Ferrés & Piscitelli, 2015, p. 9). The questions directed to this dimension were related to movie scenes and video production. After the screening of a sequence10 of the feature film Amélie (Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain, 2001, France), the students answered the following question: Which of these options on the use of audiovisual language best represents the meaning of the fragment of this film. 51.90% signaled the option “Amélie’s close-up highlights her emotional state”, 24.65% stated that “The music serves to set the time in which the sequence takes place” and 23.45% answered that “The colors reflect the sadness of the main character of the film”. In this sense, it can be stressed that most students identified the different languages involved in media communication.

Figure 7: Scene displayed to students.
Source: Screenshot (2019).

The second question of the language dimension was related to a sequence of the film Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, 2007, United States. After watching a scene from the feature film, the students had to answer which elements contributed to making the sequence more exciting. 50.50% of the students stated “The images of Harry Potter’s friends”, 28.26% said “The scenery and lighting” and 21.24% emphasized “Harry’s framing on the ground”. It can be concluded that most students were able to identify the meaning of the different languages involved in the plot.

Figure 8: Scene displayed to students.
Screenshot (2019).

The last question regarding the technology dimension was related to the production of videos. When asked if they recorded videos, 53.51% answered “sometimes”. Showing that they were familiar with the process of recording this type of content.

Figure 9: Students’ responses.
Source: Prepared by the authors (2019).

In the analysis of the level of media competence of the language dimension, it was found that there was a balance between young people at advanced level (51%) and basic/intermediate level (47%), which was reinforced in the gender variable, with 51.3% in the female category and 51.50% in the male category.

Figure 10: Media competence levels of Language dimension
Source: Prepared by the authors (2019).

This balance was also shown in relation to the age group 14 (50.5%) and 15 years old (50%) and showing a slight increase in the 16 years old (53.6%) age group. Regarding the type of school, there was a prevalence of private school (55%) followed by public school (52.2%). In the private school with public funding 71.95% of students stand at the basic/intermediate level.

Data from the training category show a prevalence of the basic/intermediate level, showing differences of more than 5 percentage points in relation to the advanced level. At the basic/intermediate level, 71.4% of students stated they had acquired knowledge through workshops, 58.6% with input from teachers, 54.3% through friends and colleagues and 51.3% stated they had not acquired training. Regarding the advanced level, 51.1% indicated their family members. Therefore, the results show that the training received, both through workshops and teachers, was not enough to reach the advanced level regarding the language dimension.

3.3. Interaction Processes

The dimension of interaction processes refers to the ability to appreciate messages from other cultures, as well as to work collaboratively in digital social networks (Ferrés & Piscitelli, 2015, p. 10). In this context, a Coca-Cola advertisement was shown to the students.

Figure 11: Coca-Cola advertisement shown to students.
Source: Screenshot (2019).

Subsequently, the respondents had to mark the main purpose of the video. Most students, 41.08%, chose the option “People of any age can live together and happy”.

Figure 12: Students’ responses
Source: Prepared by the authors (2019).

Based on the options selected by the students, it can be concluded that most respondents do not understand the actual purpose of the image.

In relation to the same advertisement, the students were asked to identify the influence exerted by the scenes they had just watched. Responding to the question “If yes or maybe, why is it influential?”, 32.26% stated that the scenes are influential “because they expose the emotions that generate the desire to have the product” and 25.65% indicated the option “because consumption is associated with affective moments”. The data show that most respondents identified the value of use of the product and the emotional value associated to it.

The last issue of the interaction processes dimension was directed to the dissemination of inappropriate posts. When asked if they had ever seen online messages/posts (websites, social networks, etc.) that should be reported as inappropriate, 48.90% of the students stated they had seen and reported them, 32.26% had never seen posts of this type and 18.84% had seen them, but did not know how to report them. Based on the answers, it can be emphasized that students recognize inappropriate messages and know how to act accordingly.

Regarding the level of media competence, in the interaction processes dimension, 61% of the students are at basic/intermediate level, while 34.4% are at advanced level and 4.6% at basic level, as shown in the following chart.

Figure 13: Media competence levels of Interaction processes dimension
Source: Prepared by the authors (2019).

Regarding age, 68.4% of 14, 56.2% of 15 and 56.6% of 16 years old are at the basic/intermediate level. However, it is perceived that the advanced level increases as age increases, presenting the following figures: 27.9% (14), 37.7% (15) and 39.2% (16 years old), although all of them are still below 40%. Regarding the type of school, there was a prevalence of the basic/intermediate level with the following figures: private education (50.4%), public education (63.4%) and private education with public funding (78.1 %). Regarding the advanced level, private education (46.6%) still leads, with a large difference from the others: public (31.6%) and private education with public funding (15.6%).

In the training category, there was also the prevalence of the basic/intermediate level with all questions above 56%. It can be highlighted that, in relation to the advanced level, there is an equivalence between those who claim to have acquired knowledge with friends/colleagues (35.8%), teachers (35.10%) and self-taught (37.8%).

3.4. Production and dissemination processes

The dimension production and dissemination processes refer to basic knowledge about production systems, programming techniques and dissemination mechanisms (Ferrés & Piscitelli, 2015, p. 12). The first question concerning this dimension gives continuation to the previous discussion. Faced with an inappropriate post, 82.36% of respondents said they would report it to the relevant site, rather than talking to friends and telling others. In this sense, students understand the appropriate measures to be taken when faced with this type of content.

The second question asked the students to list the stages of an audiovisual production. The question provided the following context: Imagine that you will participate in a video contest in which you must tell a story about some characters. How would you organize the different steps to carry out a production? 49.90% stated that the first step would be “Write the script” and the second step, for 53.71% of the students, would be “Bring together, define and set up a team and carry out the pre-production”. Subsequently, 54.91% of the students pointed out that the third step would be the “Audiovisual Capture” and 62.32% indicated that the fourth and final phase would be the “Montage/Editing”. Based on the percentages, it can be observed that most respondents know the process of planning/producing audiovisual content, since the correct order was selected in most cases.

When asked if they usually share videos, 61.92% of students marked the option “Yes, when I think they are appropriate”. Yet, 27.66% indicated “No, because I do not know how” and only 10.42% marked the option “Yes”. Thus, it can be concluded that most students know how to publish a video on the Internet, however, they think about it before posting.

The dimension production and dissemination processes present 93.60% of the students at basic/intermediate level, and only 4.4% are at advanced level and another 2% at basic level.

Figure 14: Media competence levels of Production and dissemination processes dimension
Source: Prepared by the authors (2019).

Regarding the gender variable, the data show a slight increase in the percentage of basic/intermediate level of girls (94.4%) compared to boys (92.8%), indicating that girls are slightly more active in relation to production and dissemination. Regarding age, the following values were recorded: 14 (95.3%), 15 (93.8%) and 16 years old (91.6%), indicating that younger people are more active.

Regarding the type of school, the following percentages were recorded at advanced level: private education (5.3%), in public education (4.4%) and private education with public funding (0%), all of which present at least 93% of students at basic/intermediate level.

Regarding acquired training, the data obtained for advanced level show that 14.3% of the students say they learned through workshops, 6.8% claim to be self-taught and 4.3% learned from family members. It is also noteworthy that 14.3% of those who are at basic level claim to have learned in workshops and the majority, more than 70%, in all questions, are at basic/intermediate level.

3.5. Ideology and values

The ideology and values dimension refers to the ability to evaluate flexibility in relation to information, drawing critical conclusions both from what is said and from what is emitted (Ferrés & Piscitelli, 2015, p. 13). The questions covering this dimension are connected to other issues discussed in this analysis. The first one returns to the questions raised after the coca cola advertisement screened and asks: Do you think this ad can influence people to consume Coca Cola? According to the answers, it is concluded that the students recognize the influence of the publication on the consumption of the product, 41.88% of the students answered “Maybe”, 40.48% indicated “Yes” and only 17.64% opted for the alternative “No”.

The second question resumes the discussion of inappropriate publications. When asked about the possibility of reporting a message, 55.91% of respondents pointed out that they would consider the offensive nature of the content, 36.87% highlighted personal data leakage and 7.21% reported that an aesthetically ugly publication could lead them to report it. In this sense, the complaint of most students would be motivated by aggressive and disrespectful posts. Finally, the last question of the ideology and values dimension highlights video sharing. Most respondents (56.51%) state that the importance of the theme is what leads to content sharing.

The ideology and values dimension presents 59.2% of the respondents at advanced level and 40.8% at basic/intermediate level, as shown in the following chart.

Figure 15: Media competence levels of Ideology and values dimension
Source: Prepared by the authors (2019).

When compared in the gender category, the advanced level variated among females (63.7%) and male (54%). In relation to age, the following percentages were obtained: 14 (53.7%), 15 (58.9%) and 16 years old (65.7%), showing that older people have more competence in this dimension than younger people.

When comparing the types of school, the advanced level had a higher percentage in the private category (68.7%), followed by the public category (58.1%) and private with public funding (31.3%), indicating that private education or the socioeconomic status of the student can interfere in the expansion of the level of competence in this dimension.

In relation to training, it is noteworthy that 50% of those who have never obtained training are at advanced level and the other 50% are at basic/intermediate level. That is, the students obtained an advanced level, learning alone (62%), with family members (67%), friends/colleagues (54.3%) even without specific training. Of those who obtained some training and are at advanced level, 57.1% learned in workshops and 51.4% from teachers.

3.6. Aesthetics

The aesthetics dimension emphasizes the sensitivity to recognize media production that does not fit the minimum requirements of aesthetic quality (Ferrés & Piscitelli, 2015, p. 14). The first question of this dimension asks students “Which beverage advertisement presents more elements from an aesthetic point of view?” 68.94% said that the Minute Maid ad explores more aesthetic elements. The percentage reinforces that the students correctly recognize the elements present in the images shown in the questionnaire.

When asked about the reasons for choosing Minute Maid’s advertisement, 23.65% said that the images and graphics were well integrated, making the design more attractive, 21.44% said they liked the visual effect, 20.44% pointed out that the scenery presented elements of nature.

Figure 16: Students’ responses
Source: Prepared by the authors (2019).

In this way, most were able to recognize the aesthetic characteristics present in the advertisement.

The last question of the questionnaire addresses Shakira’s La La La music video11.

Figure 17: Excerpt from Shakira’s music video shown to students.
Source: Prepared by the authors (2019).

After the content is displayed, students point out which elements cause the music video to be considered artistic.

Figure 18: Students’ responses.
Source: Prepared by the authors (2019).

Thus, it can be concluded that, based on the answers, most students identified the elements associated with the aesthetics of the video displayed.

In this dimension, 66.9% of the respondents are at advanced level, 31.1% at basic/intermediate level and 2% are at basic level, as this dimension presented the highest percentage of students at advanced level, showing that, despite being a complex dimension, the respondents demonstrated to have a relative intimacy with it.

Figure 19: Media competence levels of Aesthetics dimension
Source: Prepared by the authors (2019).

Regarding the advanced level, the female gender variable presented a higher percentage (66.9%) than males (63.8%). Regarding age, the following record was obtained: 14 (65.8%), 15 (63.7%) and 16 years old (71.1%). Considering the type of education, the results obtained were (72.5%) in private education, (67.3%) in public education and (40.6%) in private education with public funding, indicating that private schools have significant prevalence, especially in relation to private schools with the support of public funds.

In relation to training, the data obtained for the advanced level were as follows: workshops (71.4%), self-taught (70.4%), never had training (67.9%), family members (67.4%), learned at school (25.6%), friends/colleagues (60.8%) and teachers (59.5%).

4. Discussion

According to the chart below, the predominance of the advanced level between the dimensions Technology, Language, Ideology and Values and Aesthetics can be observed, with the basic-intermediate level highlighted only in relation to the Interaction and Production and Dissemination processes. However, even in the dimensions where advanced levels are found, the difference to the basic/intermediate level is not very large, since the figures stand between 40% and 60%. In the dimensions interaction processes, and production and dissemination processes, in which the basic/intermediate level stands out, there is a greater distance to the advanced level.

Figure 20: Media competence levels in each dimension.
Source: Prepared by the authors (2019).

In this sense, it can be stressed that young people have satisfactory media competence to deal with technology, knowing how to access and manipulate data on websites and social networks, cameras and editing programs; as well as understanding the media messages and producing meaning from different textual, visual, audiovisual and sound elements related to the language dimension.

Regarding the ideology and values dimension, it is interesting to point out that there is a twenty-point gap between the two levels, and this expresses the competence to understand media representations and the way they shape our perception of reality, as well as the ability to manage emotions in relation to the different media messages depending on the values they transmit. With regard to aesthetics, which is related to the ability to recognize formal aspects that make up a media message and identify basic aesthetic categories such as formal and thematic innovation and originality, it is highlighted that it reaches the most advanced level in all dimensions.

It is important to reflect on the preponderance of the basic/intermediate level in the dimensions interaction processes (34%) and processes of production and dissemination (4.4%), which are related to media consumption, the way individuals behave on the Internet and social networks, being able to evaluate the cognitive effects of emotions; create and feed collaborative networks, as well as elaborate, select, take hold of and transform media messages.

It is commonly understood that young people know how to move very easily through digital culture, being able not only to produce content but also to disseminate such content. What this research shows is that this understanding does not apply to the group of students surveyed in different Brazilian cities.

Subsequently, this paper analyzes data related to the training of those who hold an advanced level of media competence. In this reflection, priority is given to an overview of the practices, knowledge and competences of young students who participated in the research, without specifying age groups, geographical locations, seeking to articulate the various dimensions of competence in the challenges of training practices.

From the charts below, in an approximation exercise to give visibility to the learning processes, “how and from whom was such knowledge learned/acquired”, it is possible to observe nuances of such presences/absences in different levels.

Figure 21: Advanced level of knowledge acquisition source in all dimensions
Source: Prepared by the authors (2019).

As it can be observed, the chart shows that informal and non-formal learning, from friends/colleagues and family members, respectively, is more significant in the aesthetics dimensions (60.8% and 67.4%) and ideology and values (54.3% and 67.4%). Also, in the technology dimension, 56.5% say they learned from friends, referring to the idea of learning in informal and non-formal contexts, cultural capital, and collaborative practices. In a way, such data dialogue with what Pretto (2014, p. 346) has highlighted about media practices and the forms of participation of young people who have taken the country’s town squares and streets in various movements between 2013 and 2016, highlighting the importance of social networks in guiding media outlets from a diversity of claims. (Pretto,2014) has designated the alt-tab generation as that which, in addition to using the keyboard keys with dexterity, “navigates through the streets of cities with the same intimacy with which it navigates several open screens on their desktop” (pp. 347). For the author, such practices demand a radical change in the school perspective in order to establish the necessary dialogues between what happens inside and outside the classroom, formal and informal learning, and the possibilities of mediation.

Regarding formal learning, conducted with teachers and through workshops, the technology dimensions (64.9% and 71.4%) stand out, respectively. (59.5% and 71.4%). In this regard, it is worth remembering the aspects of educational mediation that Livingstone (2017) highlights: empowering (conversation, encouragement, counseling) and restrictive (insistence, prohibition, restriction) from previous studies that evidenced the dimensions of shared use, limit and restriction of time and content, technical restriction and monitoring (Livingstone & Helsper, 2008, p. 585).

Those who state they learned alone and did not have training stand out in the aesthetics (70.4% and 67.9%) and technology (70.4% and 59%) dimensions, respectively. Perhaps these data suggest both the meaning of self-taught (Belloni & Gomes, 2008, p. 721) as well as aspects of the Do It Yourself movement or culture maker movement, characterized by slogans such as “do it yourself”, “get your hands dirty “ and/or “try and do it” from new modes of participation in digital culture, evidencing possibilities of “[...] a new type of educational solution with self-motivated and organized learning, made possible by digital technology” (Sefton-Green, 2013, p. 13).

On the other hand, the sources of knowledge acquisition in the different dimensions at basic/intermediate level may be observed in the following chart.

Figure 22: Basic/Intermediate level of knowledge acquisition in all dimensions
Source: Prepared by the authors (2019).

Thus, special attention must be given to other dimensions of media competence, namely language, interaction processes and production and dissemination processes, in order to allow them to be developed in this researched category. However, in the production and dissemination dimension, which presented a low level of competence, teachers (97.3%) stand out, and seem to have assumed a determining role in such learning.

The language dimension is at the basic/intermediate level for all the questions studied, except for family members (51.10%), who are at advanced level with a difference of five percentage points in relation to the basic/intermediate level. The dimension interaction processes and production and dissemination processes are at basic/intermediate level for all items with a difference between twenty and fifty-five percentage points, respectively, in relation to the advanced level.

As signaled above, with the possible presence of self-taught and aspects of the Do It Yourself movement in its affirmative character, such training spaces also allow to demystify a little the importance of “learning alone” and even the idea of “digital native” (Fantin, 2016, p. 6). After all, for the author, “it is as important to use the means that give meaning to educational, cultural and media practices, which modify the dynamics of youth negotiations about their learning, as it is to know the strategies they use to learn and act inside and outside school”. Only in this way will it be possible to promote meaningful mediations so that they can “learn to interconnect information, knowledge, languages and affections, based on perceptions and experiences”(Carvalho et al., 2013, p. 373). In this sense, “interacting with youth cultures at school implies being attentive to the experiences of young students and their processes of production of subjectivities” (Fantin, 2019, p. 381), as it is fundamental to articulate daily knowledge and experiences in a significant way in the construction of media competence dimensions at school.

Thus, based on the research conducted in six Brazilian cities, with the purpose of understanding the universe in which the universities involved develop training activities in media-education, it can be concluded that young people move with resourcefulness in the handling of technology, and also understand the aesthetic elements and meanings associated with media messages, knowing how to interpret and analyze content satisfactorily.

However, it is also understood that the processes of interaction, production and dissemination dimensions, which are related to consumption and media participation, need training actions in order to promote learning and the development of critical thinking. Thus, contributing to the strengthening of the role of education in the construction of citizenship experiences that enable responsible training and attuned to the challenges of complexity.


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  1. For its development, this research was funded by CNPQ - Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (National Council for Scientific Development) Call Notice MCTI/CNPq/MEC/CAPES nº 14/2014 – Human Sciences and Applied Social Sciences (Process number 449573/2014-1); FAPEMIG - Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de Minas Gerais (Minas Gerais State Research Support Foundation) Call Notice 01/2015 - Demanda Universal (All Scientific fields) 2015 (Process number APQ CHE 002824-15); Federal University of Juiz de Fora and Programme University without Frontiers of Secretary of Science and Technology of Paraná State.
  2. The Rede Interinstitucional Euroamericana de Investigação sobre Competência Midiática para a Cidadania (Euro-American Inter-institutional Network for Research on Media Competencies for Citizenship) (Alfamed) is composed of 13 countries from Latin America and Europe, coordinated by Professor Ignacio Aguaded Gomez, University of Huelva.
  3. In CSV format (Comma-Separated Values).
  4. 131 questionnaires were applied in Brasília, 103 in Florianópolis, 121 in Juiz de Fora, 100 in Ponta Grossa, 10 in São Roque and 34 in Sorocaba. Totaling 499 questionnaires.
  5. Data were processed with the help of statisticians: Daniel Moreira (Initial treatment) and José Ricardo Favoretto (Detailed treatment).
  6. The chi-square test compares observed and expected values indicating whether there is a significant relationship.
  7. Schools where questionnaires were applied: CED do Lago, CEF 306 Norte, CEM Setor Leste, CEM Setor Oeste, Asa Norte High Education Center, Marista Lúcia Mayvorne Educational Center, Aplicação College, Equipe College, Manuel Antônio Gomes State College, Estância de São Roque College, SESI College, Doutor Achilles de Almeida Municipal School,Doutor Antonino Lessa Municipal School, Santos Dumont Municipal School, Sistema Degraus de Ensino.
  8. Digital audio compression format and corresponding reading device.
  9. Audio and digital video compression format and corresponding reading device.
  10. Available at
  11. Available at

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