What is Digital Literacy?
Updated: Oct 10, 2020
What does Digital Literacy mean?
Being literate is defined in the dictionary as being able to read and write but literacy is also much more than just reading and writing.
Something that is digital is done with the use of computer technology.
Digital literacy, or being digitally literate is about being able to compose or create effective content or media on a digital device that might be resourced or informed using the internet and also possibly published or shared electronically.
My definition would be that digitally literate kids can communicate their own ideas in an appropriate digital form in a responsible and effective way.
What is Digital Literacy for kids?
Kids that are digitally literate understand how to use technology to:
find sources of information or content online
evaluate the reliability and validity of the content/information they want to use
use content fairly and appropriately
compose original digital content (could be written, photographic, graphic)
share content on appropriate platforms
share content responsibly
be a part of a digital community
stay safe and keep others safe
Digitally literate kids might write forum responses, blog posts, stories, poems, letters or messages or they might create other media such as videos, photos, vector graphics, illustrations, interactive media, animations, games, websites etc. They might also communicate and collaborate online.
Why is Digital Literacy important?
Our world is becoming increasingly digital all the time and computer technology is all around us - it's at school, at work, in the supermarket, it's part of our social lives, our fitness routines and our entertainment. It's unavoidable and so to be successful at school and work and in other daily tasks and challenges, digital literacy is extremely helpful, if not essential.
Digital literacy at school basically gives kids access to all the information in the history of our world via the internet and means that they can use an incredible range of digital tools to learn.
Not only this but many of the digital skills that kids develop during childhood are required in the workplace and might be incredibly useful to them in their careers later on in life.
Examples of Digital Literacy
Here are three imaginary examples that I came up with of kids who are highly digitally literate:
Kids who are actively involved in an online forum community, which they access from their laptop, where their membership contributes to the good of the community as a whole. Maybe they regularly compose well-thought-out argumentative and persuasive posts as part of a productive and enjoyable debate on a topic.
A teenager who uses social media on their smartphone to share thoughts and photos from their own life. Maybe before they post something new, they ask themselves whether what they are about to post is appropriate for absolutely anyone to see, whether it is a positive message or not and whether it contains anything private that shouldn't be made public for safety reasons.
A child who creates videos teaching others how to do skateboard tricks that he has learned. Maybe his videos include some content from others - this is fine as long as he has permission to use it, he has used it fairly and he has credited it appropriately. Maybe he found some free background music on the internet which he downloaded and added to his video and then credited the music source with a link to the site where he found it in the description of his video.
You can see how in each of these examples, the child is staying safe whilst playing an active and productive role in the community or platform they are using for their own benefit and the benefit of others.