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The Need for Digital Literacy

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With over 460 million internet users, India is the second largest online market ranked only behind China. By 2021, there will be about 700 million internet users in the country. With such a huge internet penetration, Digital literacy has become the core part of almost everyone. Since most of the people search for information, watch entertainment, buy products, claim benefits and also access a number of public services.

What is digital literacy?

Digital literacy refers to the wide range of skills, which are necessary to emerge successful and adapt to the digital world. Since the print mediums are facing stagnation, the ability to grasp information found online becomes important. People and students who lack digital literacy skills may soon find themselves tough to gain access to information which is available online.

Why it is important for students?

Rising invasion of digital media in the society pushes the need for digital literacy among students. So there is a great need for educating the power of digital medium to students can play a vital role in defining their ability to succeed both in academic and personal life. It also helps them as an individual to be responsible for how they use technology to interact with the world.

Challenges and Hurdles

Despite facing a fourth industrial revolution and strong penetration of internet backed by technological advancement, several countries including India have currently failing to prepare pupils, people for a new breed of workplace or environment. What’s more, there is a rise in sad, aggressive behaviour and anxious children emerging with increasing trend of childhood internet usage, which is very worrying. According to a recent report by a social organisation, teaching students how to cope up and survive in digital is now as important as reading, speaking and writing. While it has the potential to deliver important value, the digital world also comes with in-built risks; particularly for young children. The truth is, while younger generations are being identified and labelled as digital natives. When we compare the literacy, they are below par with parent. Besides, digital world is unsafe for children as it makes them vulnerable to criminals and bullies. Furthermore, they can cause students to compare their existence to the often artificial online environment of others. This leads to psychological problems like isolation, social detachment and even result in the development of mental health issues. They can also lead them to misinformation, manipulation, fraudulent dealings and fake news.

The role of educators

While most students and the public understand how to use a search engine, it is up to educator and teachers to offers students with the additional skills to bring the results and answers to the next level. There are several ways educators and teachers can embed digital literacy skills into the Internet searches like teach to evaluate and question their sources, how to find the difference between a trustworthy and untrustworthy source. How to validate an information whether it is from an academic website or a marketing company? When was the information last updated? How many other sites link to this source as a reference? Whether the information presented in an objective or biased language? Finally, they can educate, how to find a strong conclusion. Though, people can find the right answer to a problem, educator must teach the logic and to contextualize the answer.

Digital literacy for public

Most of the people think that digital literacy involves complex technical capabilities such as coding and programming and involves structural knowledge and skills. But it’s actually a small skill set which is essential for access and gaining information. Digital literacy for the public includes a small range of skills and it varies according to the day-to-day responsibilities. Skills differ for a normal worker to financial consultant. Within the next five years, it is predicted 90 per cent of the workforce will require at least common computer working skills, such as browsing the internet, using email or company software within 2 years. Over 50- 60 per cent must have the ability to use or configure and even create digital systems.

What is digital citizenship?

A digital citizen is a term which often refers to any person who has good knowledge and appropriate skills to effectively use digital media and technologies to communicate with others, participate in a social environment and society. Digital citizenship is all about attitude and confidence resulting in the positive engagement with digital technologies. By educating people, employees and students about digital citizenship, they will have the wonderful chance to develop an understanding about the following concepts like digital and information literacy, internet safety, privacy and security, hacking, unethical hacking cyber bullying, relationships, etiquette and communication, creative credit and copyright. Gaining digital citizenship lead to the acceptance and upholding of the norms of appropriate, mature and responsible behaviour while using digital tools and technologies. This will eventually lead involves using digital technologies effectively and not misusing them to exploit others.

Conclusion

Though digital world has invaded the mental and even the encroaching the emotional space, it offers tremendous benefits to us all. It provides the greatest platforms that allow us to connect and collaborate with several million people around the world. It opens up opportunities to learn about new and important issues, and it empowers innovation in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago. With such a powerful medium, the digital literacy is the need of the hour for our safe navigation.

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