As technology continues to grow, things take on a new meaning. We are in a modern age present with ICT. This digital upgrade has no doubt made its way into every sector of life.
We now use tech to achieve our social, academic and health goals. Thus, there is a serious need for digital literacy. To get by and survive in the world today, you must have digital skills. This is for all no matter if you’re old or young.
So, what is digital literacy? What are the benefits? Who needs is it for and why? Our article will include all the detailed information you need on why digital literacy matters.
What Does Digital Literacy Mean?
To be regarded as a literate, it means you can read and also write. It mainly means ability to read and understand written information. This was the only meaning before when print media was the only source of literature. However, literacy now has several meanings.
As technology expands, the meaning of the word ‘literacy’ changes (Belshaw, 2011). Digital literacy describes the effective and proper use of new media technology. The concept of digital literacy is dynamic. It also has different meanings and explanations.
However, there is a widely accepted definition by the American Library Association (ALA). It says digital literacy is the capacity to use ICT to discover, check, build, and share information. It requires both cognitive and technical skills. Digital literacy also means knowing the risks of technology and the useful precautions.
In addition, not all computer literates are digital literates. This suggests that the term goes beyond being able to use new media. To be digitally literate, you must:
- have know-how of digital tools,
- be able to analyze digital information to form an opinion, and
- understand relating with other users in the digital space.
Examples of digital literacy skills include:
- producing content for online communities,
- reading and understanding a blogpost,
- spotting errors in news articles,
- checking online mails, using the information on the web for project work, etc.
Principles of Digital Literacy
As mentioned above, digital literacy includes several factors. There are some principles that form the concept of digital literacy. They include;
Knowledge of Digital Tools
To be digitally literate, there are tools you should know how to use. Some of these tools include, Web 2.0, spreadsheets, etc. You need proper access to these tools and learn to use them the right way.
You must also use these tools to develop and design useful content. Therefore, your knowledge of digital tools must involve the ability to share powerful and original content.
Another tenet of digital literacy is the ability to filter and identify credible information. As you improve your skills in using digital tools, other users also do the same. This results in a lot of content floating around in online environments.
Despite how real they seem, many resources online are false. While some content is genuine, many others are not. You should be capable of questioning any data you engage. And critical thinking will enable you tell fact from fiction.
You can ask; “How valid is the information? Is it useful? What are the statistics backing this claim? etc.” These questions will help you analyze information and form an opinion. Critical thinking helps to improve your digital literacy.
Technology also plays an important role in our social lives. There are many platforms where you can regularly share content with friends and strangers alike. This has encouraged more social interaction especially in recent times. To be a digitally literate person, you must be able to relate with others in the digital society.
Social engagement involves building firm associations on online platforms. It means working together with others to achieve a goal no matter your differences. Many people use social media to make friends and build working relationships.
You must know and practice online etiquette. This means knowing the correct things to say, write, or share. Note that this also includes obeying the copyright and privacy laws. Doing all these means you are digitally responsible.
To effectively use technology, you must know and apply the above principles.
Why Is Digital Literacy Crucial?
You cannot overestimate the need for digital literacy in your daily life. It is also important because;
- It increases employability. Employers are on the watch for such employees. When you have digital literacy skills, you have a better chance (European Commission, 2013).
- Digitally literate people have a higher confidence level. They also help to contribute to positive change in their societies.
- It enables you to understand the essentials of internet safety. It helps you create stronger passwords and reduce your digital footprints. This knowledge protects you from hackers and identity theft.
- It also reduces the digital divide between persons from different class backgrounds.
- Digital literacy encourages better communication in the global world.
- With remote working and learning, digital literacy helps you better manage your career and studies.
- Ability to understand unsafe and improper internet practices provides you with job security.
- You will learn to understand the culture of cyberbullying. So you know to not participate and prevent it.
- It informs you on how to be a valid member of digital societies.
- As technology is dynamic, you are always learning, and this ensures lifelong improvement.
Technology will continue to move forward, so it is left for you to embrace this change. Unless, you won’t be able to cope and survive in this modern age. A survey on the effect of digital literacy was done. It showed that a solid grounding in it gives you an edge in the workforce and life. Therefore, digital literacy is only in your best interest.
From our article, you now know what digital literacy means. You also now know why it matters in our society. Whether you’re a parent, teacher, or an employer, you need digital literacy. It will help you to provide access for your wards to be digitally literate.
By David Adeyemo SEO & Content Marketing Specialist.
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