Digital Literacy – What Is It and How Can We Keep Kids Informed and Safe in This Digital World?

Most of us think of ourselves as digitally “literate.” We know how to search for information; we have at least one email account; we are on a few social media platforms, and we know how to look for products or services that we may want to purchase through online sources.

Even as technology continues to evolve, those with digital literacy make efforts to keep up with that technology so that they can remain literate. Consider just the examples of using chatbots, or video streaming, or Zoom meetings during the current pandemic. There is a learning curve, higher for some than for others. But with each new technology designed and mastered, the digital literacy of individuals increases.

Importance of Digital Literacy

For students, parents, teachers, and workers, digital literacy is not an option. Learning in the classroom has gone digital in many ways; communication has gone digital; quick access to information is demanded in today’s workplace; digital literacy allows businesses to market the value of their products and services to an increasingly online consumer.

Consider just the advantages for high school and college students who are charged with writing good research papers by most of their instructors. Traditionally, this process meant hours in the library, physically going through card catalogs, finding the right books and journals, and then pouring through them to take their notes. Today, their digital literacy means that they can access their resources online, review them far more quickly, and choose those that will best meet their needs to produce those essays and papers.

With Digital Literacy Come Any Number of Challenges, Especially for Parents and Teachers

Many kids are more digitally literate than their parents or teachers. In fact, when these adults experience difficulties with their devices, they often turn to kids for help.

A second challenge is that parents and teachers are incredibly busy these days. Parents may be working from home while their kids are in school online. Teachers face the challenges of connecting with their students online or in hybrid situations and attempting to deliver the very best educational experiences possible to help them master the concepts and skills they must. All of this means that they are not spending the time they may need to monitor their kids’ digital activities. For busy parents, in fact, kids’ digital devices become a type of childcare while they are so involved in their work tasks.<