Updated: Apr 11
The United States Department of Education’s 2018 report said that 16% of adults aged 16 to 65 were digitally illiterate. This figure translates to 31.8 million Americans with insufficient competence or comfort with technology.
Why should becoming digitally literate matter in today’s world? How is digital literacy important for young students? How can you help young students become digitally literate, and help them to use technology ethically, safely, and wisely?
This article explores the importance of digital literacy and how it can benefit young students in the modern world. By understanding the importance of digital literacy, you can help students become more prepared for the technological challenges that come their way.
Often the first step in the process of digital literacy is awareness. Whether it is social media, tools such as Google Display Advertising, or even this blog, a large step towards promoting digital literacy is creating the opportunity to start conversations.
Keep reading to learn about digital literacy’s importance to young students.
What Makes Digital Literacy Important for Students?
Technological advances have transformed how people work, interact, and entertain themselves. But these advances have also changed the way children learn. Now, students’ learning is not confined to the four walls of the classroom. They also leverage digital technologies like internet platforms, mobile devices, and social media.
Digital literacy is learning through various technological platforms like computers and the internet. And being digitally literate means having the knowledge and skills to understand technology concepts like online information access, social responsibility in social media, and cybersecurity.
Some of the ways digital literacy can benefit young students are as follows:
Supports the progress of education.
Digitally literate students are more likely to be confident and comfortable when using learning platforms like computers, tablets, and the internet.
Enables the safe use of technology.
Learning about safety and security practices can help children protect themselves from harmful and unsafe content. For example, learning how phishing works can help students protect themselves from scams and keep their personal information safe.
Digital literacy doesn’t necessarily prevent young students from encountering safety challenges online. But being digitally literate can empower them with essential tools, resources, and knowledge to help protect their safety and privacy, and to know what to do when they encounter unsafe situations.
Encourages social interaction and collaborative learning.
Technology can break through geographical barriers and allow students to socialize outside the classroom setting. This can create opportunities for collaborative learning by allowing students to communicate with their peers, share lessons, and work on group projects online.
Imparts knowledge and skills needed in adulthood.
Digitally literate students gain fundamental skills and knowledge that they can apply to and build upon as they use technology today and in the future. For example, basic concepts like identifying hardware devices, using software, and setting up a simple network can provide students with shareable knowledge to apply to new and emerging tools.
How to Help Young Students Become Digitally Literate
You can help students become a little more eager to learn about technology and improve their digital literacy through the following ways:
Encourage student collaboration. Technology in the classroom promotes interpersonal computing. This interaction helps students to perform better by developing collaboration and negotiation skills that they can use through adulthood.
Let students learn at their own pace. Students have their own learning styles and speeds. By allowing them to perform schoolwork at their own pace, they’ll be more comfortable with learning, and be relieved of the pressure of keeping up with their peers.
Address barriers to digital literacy. Digital literacy is a great asset for students to have as they can continue using it when they become productive members of society.
However, several barriers can hinder many children from becoming digitally literate. Even today, half of the global population is yet to go online.
According to UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund), these barriers include:
○ Lack of teachers’ and trainers’ capacity
○ Insufficient information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure
○ Low connectivity, especially in remote areas
○ Lack of understanding from decision-makers
Addressing these barriers can help improve digital literacy rates among young students and make them more competitive in today’s technology-driven world.
1. A Description of U.S. Adults Who Are Not Digitally Literate https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2018/2018161.pdf
2. Digital literacy for children — 10 things to know https://www.unicef.org/globalinsight/documents/digital-literacy-children-10-things-know
3. Digital Divide and Digital Literacy https://www.unicef.org/globalinsight/documents/digital-literacy-children-10-things-know