In our increasingly technological and connected world, it is important to teach kids about digital literacy. I put together a list of 4 reasons why this is so essential for kids in this day and age.
It is worth noting that digital literacy doesn’t mean just reading or communicating online. Digital literacy means using technology to create and evaluate information using cognitive and technical skills. This can range from knowing how to embed links and videos into a website to creating new technologies through computer programming.
Digital literacy provides kids with a foundation of knowledge that will improve their day-to-day lives, teach them about information use, creation, and sharing, protect their information and activities online, and prepare them for an increasingly digital economy.
1. Everyday functioning
Many everyday tasks and needs require some interaction with digital platforms. Many services, such as banking, shopping, and even education, are moving to online platforms with specific interfaces requiring specific actions. Knowing basic navigation on digital platforms is crucial for successful functioning.
Teaching children proper communication skills is a difficult task that has become more complicated with the rise of social media and digital communication (email, instant message, etc). A digitally literate person will know how to use different communication platforms to connect with others, as well as the specific formalities associated with each mode of communication.
2. Access to and creation of information
Printed information is no longer the primary mode that people receive information — they turn to the internet. Digital literacy teaches one how to find, evaluate, and use the information to meet their needs as students and future employees/business owners/public citizens. Digital literacy teaches kids how search engines and databases work.
Further, because so much information is shared online, this is the best place to get one’s own ideas out there. Knowing best practices and different information presentation methods (for example: PowerPoint presentations, PDF handouts, interactive webpages, etc.) becomes easier for digitally literate kids. These skills will help children as they move through school and enter the job market as well.
3. Protecting your kids online
There is no need to dive into all the details of why we need to protect our children on the internet. It can be a scary place, but only if we don’t equip them with the skills to protect themselves.
Digital literacy teaches kids about how to set strong passwords for their accounts to protect their personal information. Also, understanding the basics of how websites, cookies, and information privacy work will keep kids mindful about viruses and the security of their internet activity.
4. Participating in an increasingly digital economy
The term “Digital Economy” refers to the interwoven economies that rely on technology and innovative digital networks to conduct commercial activity. It is worth somewhere close to $3 trillion. For the people in the back — Trillion.
Advertising, retail, financial services, legal services, and more types of businesses are taking advantage of digital networks to increase their accessibility and revenues. Without basic to advanced digital literacy, it is impossible to participate in this vast economy.
Right now, more than half of all jobs require at least some technological knowledge. At a minimum, you need to know how to create a resume and send it to a potential employer — that’s digital literacy! Furthermore, because every day functioning now requires a degree of digital literacy, teaching kids digital literacy will improve their abilities to excel in their work environments.
Additionally, many jobs have been created based on technology alone. Some of the fastest growing jobs and industry revolve around digital technology. A solid foundation of digital literacy will open up access to more advanced work in tech.
Now more than ever, no matter what career field one chooses to pursue, digital literacy will be important for success.
While many lament what they consider over-use of computers, it is hard to ignore that digital technology has been essential in improving lives through innovation. 53% of the world currently has consistent access to the internet, creating the biggest network of possible connections.