In today’s world, digital literacy is more than a “nice-to-have,” it’s an absolute necessity. Our children are growing up media-savvy and web-smart…are we keeping up?
And what role does school play in encouraging conversation around online media literacy?
First, What is “Digital Literacy?”
Digital literacy, also sometimes known as online literacy or online media literacy is defined by the American Library Association as:
The ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills.
Digitally literate people should be able to use a number of diverse technologies, understand the concepts of privacy and information sharing, and have skills that allow them to engage and contribute to the online community. For youths just now wading into the online waters as well as those who didn’t grow up with “The Internet,” that can be a tall order.
What Truly Digitally Literate People Know
Long thought of as a purely technological term, we now know that the definition of digital literacy stretches far wider than just the ability to type on a tablet. There are a number of complex social and behavioral issues that can only be understood in the context of the Internet; digitally literate people have a good grasp on these topics.
Cyberbullying: Depending on the source, anywhere between a quarter and a half of all children have been bullied online. Understanding how cyberbullying affects kids as well as knowing the warning signs of cyberbullying are important to curb the practice.
Grooming: Grooming is the process in which a predator slowly builds trust with a child in order to take advantage of that child physically, emotionally, or even financially. The anonymity of the internet makes it a perfect breeding ground for grooming if access is uncontrolled.
Spoofing: The practice of deceiving someone online by creating a fake message or website is also known as “spoofing.” Spoofing can open children and adults to a variety of online manipulations.
Etiquette: The etiquette of proper online usage is constantly changing. From engaging with others on the Internet to sharing potentially revealing information, understanding Internet etiquette is a big part of staying safe – and having fun! – online.
Should Schools Offer Online Media Literacy Courses?
In a word: Yes. Schools are where our children are learning to navigate the web. Students spend an average of 40+ hours a week at school where nearly 40,000,000 have reliable access to high-speed internet. Why shouldn’t schools extend the same educational resources to adults?
Schools that teach the community – both students and adults – about digital literacy offer myriad benefits. By looking to schools for help with digital literacy, adults can rest assured they’re learning the bounds of the internet on a safe, controlled network as long as the school is utilizing industry-leading network security tools.
And not only does doing so help parents and adults better understand how their children are interacting with the web, it can also help them understand how to keep children safe at home. When parents and schools work together to bridge the digital divide, not fight it, everyone wins.
Smoothwall thinks everyone should have access to safe, reliable internet. Our products are changing the way kids interact with the web. How can we improve your school’s ability to monitor what’s going on online?
Our specially developed technologies deliver real-time Dynamic Content Analysis™ of web pages, all without impacting on the users’ experience.