Family status in media literacy research in Iran: A systematic review

Document Type : Original Article


Assistant Professor, Institute for Cultural Studies and Communication, Humanities and Cultural Studies Institute


Extended Abstract
Introduction and statement of the problem: 
Zare Kohan (2014) defines media literacy as the practices that allow people to access, understand, and critically evaluate media content. If appropriately implemented, media literacy can protect audiences from misinformation and deceiving content. While the influences of media spread to our daily life, vulnerability to the threats which are widespread in both online and mainstream media are also increasing (Moghaddaszadeh & Safahieh, 2018). This vulnerability is not limited to a specific age group, but children, as well as teenagers, are more vulnerable compared to middle-aged and older adults. As children and teenagers spend most of their time at school and particularly with their family members, the role of the family has a profound effect on children's ability on how to deal with media content (Livingstone, 2014). The family role in overseeing children's activities becomes more critical than when the number of three to four years old children using smartphones and tablets is increasing (Ofcom, 2017). This paper offers a systematic review of such a role, and it aims at examining the family status in media literacy research in Iran and seeks to answer the following questions.
1) to what extent, media literacy studies in Iran have focused on the family?
b) what are the approaches taken from the methodological point of view?
3) what are the main practical and theoretical findings of conducted studies?
4) what are the main existing research gap/s for further study in future studies?
Here we offer a systematic review of studies on media literacy that focussed on the Iranian family's role.  In order to find published articles and works related to media literacy, we the following five keywords: "media literacy," "information literacy," "family," "parents," and "Iran."  The search took place in six databases, including "CIVILICA," "ENSANI", "NOORMAGS," "MAGIRAN," "IRANDOC," and "Scientific Information Database (SID)" were searched. In addition to the online databases, we also searched through the "Google Scholar" for additional and relevant studies on media literacy. The databases were selected based on all library subscriptions of the Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences (IHCSs).
To determine the relevancy of the studies for inclusion, we did the search based on the title, keywords, and abstracts. The first count of the obtained studies on media literacy led us to 105 publications. After reviewing all obtained studies, despite the presence of searched terms, 86 studies were excluded because they lacked relevant objectives of the study, or they did not present sufficient discussion on the subject matter. Further inspection of the documents resulted in identifying 19 articles in which some nine papers had the characteristics that we were looking for and used them for the final analysis. To ensure adherence to the admission requirements, two researchers reviewed and approved the included documents independently.
Findings and discussion: 
This study aimed at investigating the family situation in media literacy research in Iran. The search yielded nine relevant studies in which the oldest and latest were published in 2008 and 2017, respectively. The search procedure was carried out in the summer of 2018, and the procedure was not limited to any specific time. From a methodological point of view, three out of nine studies applied documentary methods. This method, also known as library study, involves identifying and locating relevant information, analyzing what was found, and then developing discussion and conclusion. Three out of nine studies used quantitative survey methods, two out of nine applied focus groups, and semi-structured in-depth interviews, and one study used a SWOT analysis. The findings show that most of the studies have been used by documentary and survey methods to meet their goals. The main objectives of the studies were to determine whether a relationship existed between the level of education and the economic conditions of families that had media literacy. In terms of the field of researchers who carried out these studies, eight out of nine studies came from the communication filed. This indicates the family's substantial role in media literacy is well-understood among communication scholars.   
According to the findings of the present research,‏ a small number of research on media literacy paid attention to the importance of the family's role. Nowadays, when new and mainstream media are penetrated in all aspects of our life, and some cases, they can be dangerous, especially for children and teenagers who do not know how to use and deal with potential threats. Given this central role,‏ the primary responsibility to educate children and teenagers is on the family's shoulders. As the reviewed studies showed, the relationship between limited variables such as socio-economic conditions and family's income with media literacy were investigated in previous research (e.g., Ashrafirizi, Ramezani, Aghajani, & Kazempour, 2013; Shojaee & Amirpour, 2012). Hence, the challenge for further research is to learn more about how the family may educate media literacy to children.        
Based on the objective of the current study to investigate family status in media literacy research in Iran, published literature on the subject seems very limited. This indicates that the family's role has not received enough attention from researchers whose media literacy is among their interest areas. It is also worth mentioning that perhaps there could be other relevant unpublished studies that are not either open to the public or are in press. However, referring to all included papers, it shows that minimal studies focused on the family's role in media literacy research. It should also be mentioned that almost all of these minimal studies done by communication scholars.
Prominent Results:
Despite the prominent role of families to educate children on how to use media, it has not received enough attention on how moms and dads may play their crucial way. As the findings indicate, moms play a more significant role in teaching children how to use media; therefore, educating and increasing media awareness among moms is fundamental. Furthers studies need to focus on how ' media literacy among parents influences children's media behavior. However, this could be very useful if future studies integrate communicative and cultural factors in investigating family status in media literacy.     
Keywords: Systematic review; Media literacy; Information literacy; Family; Iran

Ashrafirizi, H.; Ramezani, A.; Aghajani, H., & Kazempour, Z. (2013). The Amount of Media and Information Literacy among Isfahan University of Medical Sciences' Students. Information Systems & Services, 2 (6). pp.17-34.
Livingstone, S‏. (2014). Developing social media literacy: how children learn to interpret risky opportunities on social network sites. Communications, 39 (3). pp. 283-303. ISSN 0341-2059‏. DOI: 10.1515/commun-2014-0113‏.
Moghaddaszadeh, H. & Safahieh, H. (2018). Media Literacy and Awareness of the Social Network Damages. Media Studies, 12 (39). pp. 25-35.
Ofcom (2017). Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes Report. Available
Shojaee, M. & Amirpour, M. (2012). A Survey of Media Literacy among Students in the Information Society in North Khorasan. Sociological Studies of Youth, 3 (7). pp. 43-56.
Zare Kohan, N. (2014). Promoting Media Literacy for the realization of civil society. Rasaneh. 25 (4). pp. 109-119.