Why Is Digital Literacy For Kids Essential?

What Is Digital Literacy?

You are likely to find many definitions of digital literacy online, The American Library Association (ALA) defines digital literacy as “the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills.”

It needs to be recognized that digital literacy in education encompasses so much more than just sending a text or posting on social media or using technology such as computers, smartphones and Kindles. For example, students must have specific skills when reading online text that may contain embedded resources such as hyperlinks, audio clips, graphs, or charts that require students to make choices.

In the connected, online world we live in today, there are some essential digital literacy skills that we need to achieve our goals and live our day-to-day lives.

Digital literacy means being able to competently understand and use technology. It means being able to use and create information online in a productive and useful way. Having an understanding about digital literacy means you’re able to use technology safely and being prepared to avoid its dangers.

Digital literacy is an ever more important factor in education. Students today are also being asked to responsibly create, collaborate, and share digital content. For these reasons parents need to understand the importance of digital literacy for kids and aide in developing this essential skill.

The Benefits Of Digital Literacy

  • Digital Literacy Will Assist In Expanding Your Kid’s Knowledge

The internet is a powerful and amazing tool. It provides expansive learning opportunities for kids. From searching for information to using apps, being digitally literate exposes your kids to so many forms of learning. Videos, podcasts, social media pages, search engines, educational apps, and learning websites presents your child with various sources of information.

  • Learning Never Stops

Kids nowadays benefit from continuous and unlimited learning through digital platforms. In previous generations the learning of kids was limited to classroom discussions and reading books and other offline resources. Nowadays, kids learn beyond the classroom. Opportunities to learn exist even after classes. As they search through the Internet or browse social media feeds, they can learn so many things.

  • Digital Literacy Motivates Kids

Yow will be amazed how rapidly your child can understand and use new technology to his advantage. Allowing your child to use and explore digital tools shows them their potential and motivates them to do better in schooling, socialization, and communication.

  • Digital Literacy Is Now Embedded In Our Lives

Digital technology is here to stay. Technology is part of everyday life and will always be. From purchasing food to working in the corporate world, your child will certainly have to use these digital tools on his own, and the best way to prepare him for this is by teaching him the proper way of using technology.

The Principles Of Digital Literacy

  • Comprehension

The first principle of digital literacy is comprehension. The ability to understand and extract information from media. Many kids simply haven’t had enough of an opportunity to access digital technologies, so they need an introduction to basic digital technology principles. These include how computers work, how to access the Internet, and so on.

  • Interdependence

The second principle of digital literacy is interdependence. Media forms are connected with one another. Media is not created with the purpose of isolation. Due to the sheer abundance of media, it is necessary that different forms of media not simply co-exist, but supplement one another. Interconnectivity is something that is often ignored altogether in lessons on technology, yet it is extremely important to teach. How do actions I complete on a website then translate to a corresponding app on my mobile device? How can I access stored data on different devices?

  • Social Factors

One of the most important reasons why kids want to get online and use digital technology is to keep in touch with others. Knowing about the different ways you can interact with others through digital technology is key to expanding your digital literacy skills. From email services to social media networks to Internet-based messaging and chat apps, there are tons of ways you can make digital connections.

However, there are several other very important skills that contribute to a fully understanding online communication. These include knowing how and when it’s socially appropriate to contact people online, and proper communication etiquette.

  • Curation

Once you’ve mastered some basic digital skills and concepts, creating your own digital content is the next step. This can be something as simple as posting on Facebook, or a more complex operation such as building your own e-commerce site.

  • Storage And Retrieval Of Information

Aside from navigating through the internet you also need to know how to store information and retrieve it at a later stage, when needed. You need to know not only how to keep something, but also how to keep it secure and safe so that other people can’t use it without your permission.

How To Enhance Your Kid’s Digital Literacy Skills

  • Parents should encourage the use of digital products. As a parent you should use electronic media together with your child to encourage family connection, learning and digital literacy skills.
  • Teach your kids that media use means more than just entertainment. It can also involve connecting with others. For example, video chatting at any age is okay, however parents will need to help younger kids to understand it. Technology can be used for creating and learning together. Let your child take photos and record videos and find fun craft ideas online. Parents should feel comfortable seeing digital media as a tool to meet their parenting needs, and not something that controls the attention of our kids.
  • Technology need not be ever-present. Have unplugged spaces in your home and unplugged times during day so that both parent and child can play, or talk without distraction.
  • Parents should watch videos and test apps with their children to determine if these are good fits for their child’s temperament. Don’t let your child make all of these choices. Parents are the best people to decide whether a particular app or video is appropriate for the child’s current stage of development and knowledge.
  • It is also important that you let them know that not everything they find online is correct. Fake news and information is everywhere so when using information found on the internet it really needs to be evaluated to be assured that it is real. Google has an amazing curriculum for kids called, Be Internet Awesome.
  • Parents should still set time limits (one hour of entertainment media per day – which does not include video chatting, taking pictures, or using devices with parents as a learning tool).

Talk To Your Child About Cyberbullying

  • Start The Conversation

It’s important to involve yourself in your child’s online world by talking to him about his life online. Try to maintain regular conversations and talk about what they love to do online. Parents can help their children explore the resources the internet has to offer whilst at the same time keeping them safe online. Ask your child what site he likes to visit and use that to lead into broader topics.

  • Let Them Talk

Allow them the opportunity to talk and express what they want. Listen and try to avoid interrupting.

  • Tell Your Child If You Intend To Address His School

If your child is a victim of online abuse, you may want to address his school. Talk to him and tell him your intention in advance. Being open and honest will encourage him to talk more openly about other issues.

  • Don’t Deny Access To Technology

Encourage your child that it is okay to seek help from you about anything that is worrying him online. Reassure him that you will not take away his device if he does this.

  • Let Your Child Know That He Can Always Talk To You

Leave the conversation open so that your child knows that he can always come back to you if he needs too.

To make the most of the Internet, kids need to be prepared to make smart decisions. Parents need to get more involved in their kids online lives and guide them through the learning process. Enhancing your child’s digital literacy skills will allow them to explore the online world with confidence.

I am of the view that digital literacy is an essential skill that needs to be taught to all children. Do you have a comment or opinion on this subject. I would love to hear from you. Please leave comments and opinions below.

Check out this awesome article on why kids should learn coding .

6 thoughts on “Why Is Digital Literacy For Kids Essential?”

  • Hi Leslie. There’s no doubt that digital literacy has become extremely important for our children today. The world revolves around the use of mobile phones, laptops and PCs today.  Our children have become reliant on social media platforms for both staying in contact with friends as well as education. It’s important that they know how to use these platforms to their benefit. As you stated, cyber bullying can become a real issue, we need to make sure that our children learn how to deal with these issues .

    We live in exciting times with the continued development of technology. It’s important our children both understand it and know how to use it correctly. I see my grandchildren using various apps everyday, unfortunately many of those apps come packed with advertisements for special deals or products. Kids need to be made aware that some apps actually need to be avoided and that with others they need to be careful how they use them, otherwise they may inadvertently make unwanted purchases .

    Thank you for this informative article. I personally believe digital literacy skills are important for both adults and children.  Jim

    • Hi Jim

      I agree with you that digital literacy is important for adults and kids. We live in a digital world and that is not going to change. Also, kids need to have an understanding of the dangers lurking online. 

      Thank you for taking the time to comment.

  • There are so many pros and cons on having digital gadgets for the kids.  I do believe they are great and the benefits are digital literacy which they will need as they get older for school and such.  But on the other hand, it can be too much and they can depend on their digital items too much taking away from other important parts of their life.

    • Hi Leahrae

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting. 

      I agree with you that kids can “depend on their digitial items too much”

      Therefore, I am of the opinion that there should be unplugged spaces in the home and unplugged times during the day.

  • I truly enjoyed reading your blog entitled “Why Is Digital Literacy For Kids Essential”.

    I wholeheartedly agree with you that Digital Literacy for kids is absolutely essential.  They already love computers and cell phones, so why not?   If anyone has ever watched a young child with a computer or cell phone, they are absolutely “naturals” for technology.

    I completely agree that “Digital literacy means being able to competently understand and use technology. It means being able to use and create information online in a productive and useful way. Having an understanding about digital literacy means you’re able to use technology safely…”

    I agree that  “digital literacy is the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills.”  As such, in this day and age, it’s absolutely imperative that our children acquire that necessary ability.  Especially in the connected, online world that we live in today.

    As you state, “The internet is a powerful and amazing tool. It provides expansive learning opportunities for kids”.   I couldn’t agree more.

    I regularly write blogs on the topics of “brain games for children”, among other related topics, so I’m a firm believer that “brain games for children” could very well include digital literacy topics.

    Again, thanks for a very interesting article.

    • Hi Monique

      Thank you for your positive feedback.

      I also think that brain games for children could very well include digital literacy topics.

      I would love to visit your blog. I will look you up.

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