Hok Lida, a 23-year-old woman with black shoulder-length hair, from Kandal province is a project coordinator at the Media and Information Literacy program (MIL) at Cambodia Center for Independent Media (CCIM). She is also a MIL trainer of Media 101 Club.
She has been serving as an MIL trainer and organizer for 1.5 years and 500 youths have been trained, including university students in Phnom Penh and the provinces, indigenous people, members of the LGBTQI community, and general youths in remote provinces in Cambodia.
“CCIM has started a project to promote MIL since 2014 and, so far, we have provided MIL training either in the short- or long-term to more than 500 youths, including students at universities in Phnom Penh and the provinces, indigenous people (IP), members who belong to LGBTQI community, and general youth in the remote provinces,” she said.
According to Lida, MIL is a set of competencies that can help people, especially social media users, to be critically accessible. This involves searching for quality information, analyzing content, and creating media products and messages in a safe and responsible way.
She mentioned that people nowadays use more digital devices because they can access information easier and faster. She added that MIL helped her to improve using technology.
“I believe that nowadays people around the world, including me, use digital devices to access digital media, so I am able to get information easier and faster in comparison to traditional media. As technology is rapidly evolving, all I can do is keep on learning, updating, and improving my media and information literacy capacities and skills, meaning that MIL is my long-life learning skills,” she said.
“As a person who is currently working in the field of MIL, I believe that our work is part of the contribution to promoting MIL among youngsters in Cambodia,” she added.
The MIL trainer said that most people own digital devices and social media accounts but they do not critically understand how to use social media wisely and safely. She added that MIL is key for everyone because it can help reduce risks on social media.
“I think that Cambodian people, when it comes to using social media wisely and safely, the number is very low. We know that most people own digital devices and social media accounts, but not many of them are able to critically understand how to access media, including how to find quality information, evaluate media messages, reflect on existing media content, create useful content and product and take action to cope with media problems.
That’s why MIL is important that everyone should have in ensuring that they can maximize the advantages and reduce the risks on social media,” she said.
She noticed that youths spend a lot of time on social media. Despite it having benefits, many users face information disorder, cyberbullying, hacking, online surveillance, and privacy violations.
“Particularly, Facebook is the main source of information on everything. To get informed about current trends or any kind of information around the world, all we need is a laptop, tablet, or a simple smartphone. If we take a close look at the number of users, youth spend a lot of time online and they actively participate on social media platforms in many forms of posting, commenting, sharing, reacting, and so on.
While taking advantage of social media, many users also risk being subjected to information disorder, cyberbullying, hacking, online surveillance, and privacy violation,” she confirmed.
Lida said that being a MIL trainer in Media 101 Club makes her proud because she can help and respond to Cambodian youths who do not pay attention to accuracy and ethics in terms of skills in dealing with what happens on social media. She added that most of the MIL Club alumni have shaped themselves toward media and journalism.
“Being one of the MIL trainers/organizers in the Media 101 Club is the thing that I am really proud of today. In response to the current situation when not many Cambodian youths have MIL competencies and do not pay attention to accuracy and ethics, I believe that our work in MIL, including online and offline training and media campaigns, has continuously helped Cambodian youth to gain the most important skills in dealing with media problems and creating own useful content sharing on social media,” she said.
“Based on my observation, our MIL Club alumni have a better understanding of how to use social media effectively, safely, and responsibly. What’s interesting, many of them have shaped themselves toward media and journalism, as we see some of them now are journalists, freelancers, trainers, producers, and content creators owning channels,” she added.
Roeung Sopheavy, Media 101 Club alumni and a fourth year student majoring in English Literature at University of Cambodia, said MIL has taught her to be more careful when using social media. She added that MIL helps to protect personal privacy, identifies news and responsibility in the media.
“MIL teaches me to be more careful when using social media. As this century is a modern society, social media is full of news spreading from one person to another which requires us to recognize what is fake news. Acknowledging MIL is about protecting our privacy and having a full responsibility on the media to gain the benefits from it, not the causes,” she said.
Rin Thavirac, also a Media 101 Club alumni and senior student majoring in International Relation at Pannasastra University of Cambodia, said he has learned a lot from MIL. He said MIL is important for every social media user to become more smart in digital life as well as gain less risk when it comes to using social media.
“Before MIL, I knew something regarding the media and information but some important part, such as digital security, the camera's position, things to prevent during social media usage, content creating in terms of video vox pop, phishing, hooking, hacking, risk assessment in digital life, and new methodologies to train youth in the region and very useful tools to apply during training.
“It is important for us, not only me as a social media user, to become smarter in digital life, take less risks, digital planning, get out of the comfort zone to approach people in regional and global context without or less risks. If you think it's enough for you to compete or run your new era with digital it is not smart enough please be prepared, care for your own data and truth no one,” he said.
Cambodia has the fourth largest youth population in the South-East Asia region (UNDESA, 2020). According to the General Population Census of the Kingdom of Cambodia 2019, one in six Cambodians is between the age of 15- and 24-years-old, and more than one quarter of the population is between the ages of 15 and 29.