Digital Literacy Matters – More Than Ever!
Date posted: August 25, 2020
Digital literacy helps us use technology to find, evaluate, use and share information. With physical distancing due to COVID-19, many in-person activities – work, school, family and friends – have moved online. Digital literacy helps us stay informed, connected and safe.
What is digital literacy?
There isn’t a single definition of digital literacy. But most agree that it encompasses a network of related skills. ABC Life Literacy Canada offers this definition: Digital literacy is having the knowledge, skills and confidence to keep up with changes in technology.
Digital literacy involves the skills to access, understand, use, produce and think critically about digital content. It includes:
- Technological skills – being able to use hardware and software to find, share and create content
- Information literacy – being able to evaluate the quality and credibility of online information and avoid sharing misinformation
- Cybersecurity and data privacy –being aware of your digital footprint, and being able to protect private information and navigate online safely
- Lifelong learning – learning about useful new developments in technology
Why is digital literacy important?
Technology is woven into many aspects of modern life. Most of us use technology in some way at work. There is a digital component to many learning opportunities, formal and informal, at all different ages. Shopping, banking and socializing are examples of personal uses of technology. Digital literacy helps support what we do at work, at school, at home and in the community.
COVID-19 has made some online activities a requirement, not just a convenience. Digital literacy supports learning at a distance, working from home, accessing government and health information and services, and staying connected with family and friends while practising physical distancing.
COVID-19 has also underlined how both limited access to technology and low levels of digital literacy create barriers to a variety of activities and services.
Did you know?
- 89% of Canadians and 98% of Canadian businesses are connected to the Internet. (Canada’s Digital Charter in Action: A Plan by Canadians, for Canadians, 2019)
- 84% of jobs in Canada currently require the use of a computer and basic technical skills. Even low-skilled jobs increasingly require a basic level of digital literacy. (ABC Life Literacy Canada Digital Literacy Statistics infographic, 2020)
- Some barriers people experience in developing their digital literacy include: lack of digital access (hardware, software, internet); limited literacy and numeracy skills; financial or geographical barriers; not seeing themselves reflected in the field; intimidation and fear of failure (for both beginner and more advanced students); and lack of intermediate level programs. (Levelling Up, 2018)
- British Columbia has a Digital Literacy Framework for grades K-12.
Learn more at Media Smarts’ Digital Literacy Fundamentals.
Where can I find help?
If you or someone you know would like to build stronger digital literacy skills, contact the Literacy Outreach Coordinator or literacy organization in your BC community. Use this map to find them.