Is your kid digitally literate?

Digital literacy is the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills. More simply, Hiller Spires, a professor of literacy and technology at North Carolina State University, views digital literacy as having three buckets:

  1. finding and consuming digital content;

  2. creating digital content,

  3. communicating or sharing it.

The Brownie Collective intends to support the development of digital literacy as a core skill in the 21st century. We agree with these parameters and add two more components:

4. contextualizing and synthesis of background knowledge and new information, and

5. judging source validity.

Well, why is it important to be Digitally Literate?

It is easy to be misled or miseducated by seemingly legitimate sources. This is apparent by the global societal, political, and cultural state of affairs, especially in developing countries where press is not strictly regulated. Nationalism is on the rise alongside hate crimes in the US. It is stark in the communication methodology of the 45th American president: an elite elderly man who does not know what global warming is, and has given athletes fast food on the heels of a health conscious former first family. His actions are indicative of the larger tone-deaf culture. A culture where everyone wants to feel larger than an ant in this regime, so we line up on social media parroting ill-thought out thoughts and beliefs to be apart of something, finally. It’s not just millennials or children, anyone with access to a device that connects to the internet is susceptible to consuming poorly researched information and claiming it as fact without understanding the ramification thereof.

According to the Stanford History Education Group, people of all ages struggle to evaluate the integrity of the digital information that rains down with every web search and social media scroll. When they released findings showing that most students couldn’t tell sponsored ads from real articles, among other miscues, it intensified the scramble for tools and strategies to help students discern better.

Here are some tips for students:

  • Read Laterally, Not Vertically

Encourage students to take the indirect route and begin their investigation of unfamiliar digital sources by leaving them. When students read laterally, they will avoid diving too deep into the actual content of the website in question and gain a wider, more impartial view of its credibility.

  • Don’t Fall for Appearances

Communicate to students that more thorough evaluations, like those lateral reading allows, are crucial to establishing the trustworthiness of digital information.

  • Practice "Click Restraint"

When you encourage students to read laterally, you should also remind them to exercise restraint and avoid promiscuous clicking. Speed shouldn’t come at the expense of quality verifying — but more efficient, lateral reading will really make the mere minutes most spend searching count.

Jessica SimoneComment