Adults have had to learn the ins and outs of the internet, but for teens, it's second-nature. That doesn't necessarily mean they know everything they should about the digital landscape, however. In fact, the internet and social media are now so vast and integrated throughout society that special skills are necessary in order to use them to the greatest advantage. While reading, writing and research make up literacy skills, digital literacy is a specialized skillset related to using the web and all its platforms. To help your children get the most out of their time online, here are four essential digital literacy skills to teach them.
Social Media Safety
The first thing we must always teach children is how to keep themselves safe, both online and in the real world. Teens love social media, but that doesn’t mean it’s always the safest place for them. Familiarize yourself with the platforms they like, then discuss and set boundaries. You should also teach your teens how to practice internet safety. They should never reveal personal details, and avoid posting public photos with identifiable landmarks or other information. Cyberbullying can also rear its ugly head on social media quite easily. Be sure to take care of your child’s mental health as it relates to the content they see, and engage in, on these apps.
Performing In-Depth Research
Whether it’s for a school project or a work-related assignment, knowing how to do in-depth research is essential. In an era where convincing misinformation runs rampant, children and teens must know how to find and critique credible sources. Research doesn't just come into school or work, either. It can drastically impact how they are able to find things they need throughout their lives. Research abilities will also help your children be able to make better decisions for their future.
Being able to use the internet for everyday tasks is convenient for us but essential for children. By the time they're entering college and adulthood, most of their expenses will be handled online. In addition to managing a budget, you can also teach your children how to find deals online, comparison shop and even explore financing options. For those whose teens are headed to college soon, this is the perfect time to teach them how to navigate the often-confusing world of student loans. They should know how to fill out a FAFSA form as well as compare their private options. Teach your teen how to find, compare and evaluate the best private student loans to finance their futures.
Teens with strong digital literacy skills will be able to find better work opportunity in the future. You can start by teaching them how to perform career research, look for job listings and walk them through a typical application process. As they get older, these skills will help them be proactive in their job search and find the best opportunities for themselves.
The skills they use to find work will also prove beneficial in the workplace. With the world's freelance industry also thriving, today's children will need to know how to use the internet to create their own careers as well. Ultimately, digital literacy is more than just a way to thrive online. It's a comprehensive skill set that positions children and teens to become self-sufficient in our modern age.