Digital literacy is the ability to communicate and execute tasks intelligently via digital platforms. Digital literacy is a compulsory skill everyone must-have in this 21st century. The importance of kids in the STEM space cannot be contended. Kids contribute immensely to the progress of STEM and other digital innovations in society.
Digital literacy for kids equips them with the knowledge of how to interact in the digital space. Digital literacy is beyond knowing how to use digital platforms to interact with people. People can recognize and utilize digital tools to create awareness, opportunities, and a means for expression.
To effectively teach kids digital literacy, teachers must break down concepts for the basic understanding of their students. This is why digital literacy for kids is divided into five(5) categories:
- Digital literacy for preschoolers
- Digital literacy for school-agers
- Digital literacy for elementary school
- Digital literacy for middle school
- Digital literacy for high school.
This article enumerates digital literacy for kids at these levels, as well as tips for teaching digital literacy to kids.
Digital literacy is a wide phenomenon that is reflected in every aspect of human society. Digital literacy for kids limits the scope of how kids can become digital literate and execute tasks smoothly. There are certain important tips you need to know about teaching digital literacy to kids. They include the following:
Digital Literacy Helps Kids to Understand Ideas Better
This especially relates to kids in middle and high school. Students who have digital literacy skills will attempt questions from a more critical point of view. Because they know how to navigate the digital space, kids will be able to objectively pitch their ideas and critique other scholars' thoughts.
Kids Can Re-apply Existing Knowledge to New Situations
The beauty of being digital literate is that no knowledge is lost! You can always use previous, random information to access new topics. When teaching your kids, you can give them contextual assignments vaguely related to what they have done before. See if they will be able to merge the old and new ideas to create something entirely new!
Then, after the exercise, explain to them what you expected them to do, and repeat the process with a new assignment.
Incorporate Digital Literacy into their Subjects
The best way to teach kids digital literacy is to incorporate digital ethics into all their subjects. The subtle reminder of how they should approach tasks, relate with others in the online community, and use digital tools to perform tasks, among others, will help kids master the art of digital literacy and how to interact in the digital space.
Digital literacy is not just the ability to use digital tools, e.g. social media platforms, and Google search engines, among others. Digital literacy is also the ability to convert your digital skills into powerful tools to promote your life, education, and career, as well as relate intelligently with people in the digital sphere.
Digital literacy concerns itself with the purpose behind which technology is used. It is beyond exposure to these digital and technology tools- it also involves why, when, who, and time of utilizing digital tools.
Kids need to understand that the world goes beyond what they can see. The digital space is full of people with diverse values, cultures, languages, beliefs, and backgrounds. To relate properly in the digital space, one must be sensitive to the differences between you and others and have a good understanding of the digital culture before passing comments.
Digital literacy also involves the ability to use the computer and other digital tools efficiently. A person is not completely literate without possessing computer skills. Computer skill is an important subset of digital literacy, and a major step to achieving digital literacy.
Futurelab (2010) defines digital literacy as “the more subtle and situated practices associated with being able to create, understand, and communicate meaning and knowledge in a world in which these processes are increasingly mediated via digital technologies.”
Levels of Digital Literacy
According to the European Commission, digital literacy can be grouped into three levels.
This involves the skills, approaches, and attitudes of a person in the digital world.
This simply refers to how a person applies their digital competence in specific contexts.
This is the act of getting creative and innovative to reach your goals. Digital transformation also means transforming digital tools and platforms creatively and innovatively.
Digital literacy requires digital competence. Just as stated above, digital competence refers to the ability of a person to safely create content in the digital space to solve problems. It also means the ability to store and retrieve information when needed.
Digital Literacy by Different Level of Schooling
The primary goal of digital literacy for kids is to help them recognize and utilize digital tools to create awareness, opportunities, and a means for expression. Teaching digital literacy by grade has proven to be a more effective method of teaching digital literacy to kids.
Digital literacy for preschoolers involves teaching the tenets of digital literacy to kids between the ages of 3-6. Preschoolers, also called kindergarten, barely know how to read and write. At this stage, you use visual digital tools to teach and drive home your points. Teachers can engage kids in guessing games, and give them room to think by themselves.
Incorporating digital tools in the classroom for preschoolers prepares them for the digital world. Teachers can also teach their preschoolers how to perform basic functions on the computer using keyboards and typing apps for kids.
Elementary school kids fall within the range of 5 and 10 years of age. Elementary school kids can also be called school-agers. This is a formative/developmental age for kids and the perfect time to inculcate values and morals in kids.
Here are the things you need to know about digital literacy for elementary school kids:
- Critical thinking and evaluation should be the core of your teaching. Teachers should incorporate the act of critical thinking and evaluation into every subject. Also, kids need to understand that critical thinking is the core of successfully solving a problem, both in their subjects and in the real world.
- Storing digital information: One tenet of digital literacy is information analysis. Elementary school kids should learn how to source, identify, analyze, organize, and retrieve digital information. Teachers can interact with their kids through online platforms like Zoom, Slack, Google, etc. Kids can also learn how to use the internet to source answers and perform other tasks.
- Learn Digital Tools: Kids at the elementary school can learn the basic use of various digital tools and platforms, including Microsoft Word, Google, apps, etc.
Digital literacy for middle schoolers builds upon their existing knowledge of digital literacy. Since the foundation has been laid, teachers can proceed to teach some of the technicalities of digital literacy.
Middle Schoolers are kids between the ages of 11-13. Here kids can begin to learn the safety of using social media platforms. It is the job of parents and teachers to orient them on the importance and power of social media. Beyond that, kids should also learn about the need for safety. They should know ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘whom’, ‘who’, and ‘why’ they put out information.
Kids should also learn safety tips and security measures to ensure the safe and secure use of digital platforms. Digital literacy for middle schoolers also encompasses content creation, which is the ability to employ digital tools and information to produce and edit creative content.
Digital literacy for middle schoolers also involves:
- Evaluating online data
- Distinguishing between facts and fake rumors
- Identifying relevant images, videos, and texts.
Here, kids will acquire the three(3) fundamentals of digital literacy- use, understand, and create. Kids in high school fall between the ages of 14-18. In addition to learning e-safety, critical thinking, content creation, and digital competence, among others, kids in this category will learn the use of words in the digital environment.
Word choice when interacting and word choice when answering questions (projects/tests). Word Choice largely portrays a person’s beliefs or bias. To become digitally literate, word choice is important.
Teaching digital literacy in high school should include:
- Understanding cultural and social differences
- The ability to research without committing plagiarism
- Fact-check and evaluation
- Effective communication
Frequently Asked Questions
Computer literacy is the ability of a person to understand a computer and perform different functions on a computer. Digital literacy, however, refers to one’s ability to interpret situations in the digital space, and leverage digital platforms to achieve personal and community goals and objectives.
Computers, laptops, phones, and tablets, are all digital literacy tools. These tools serve as a gateway to the digital world. They are important tools needed to achieve digital literacy.
Digital literacy for kids is as important as teaching basic reading and writing skills. Kids must become digital literate early enough. It prepares them for their career and the real world, and it also equips them with digital skills which are necessary to succeed in the digital world and their career in general.
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