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The Importance of Digital Literacy in Education

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Starting digital literacy programs in education is important. Using digital media teaches children and the young generation the skills they will need to use technology safely and responsibly. Furthermore, digital technology education empowers and educates children by equipping them with the resources they need to succeed in an ever-changing digital environment.

According to the American Library Association, digital literacy is “the ability to use information and communication technology to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information requiring both cognitive and technical skills”. From the definition, digital literacy refers to the abilities required to live, learn, and work in a society where communication and knowledge are provided by digital technology such as the Internet and mobile devices.

Reading and writing ability come to mind when we think of traditional literacy. Learning phonics, sight words, and finally reading literature are all important skills to have. Of course, the ability to write and read effectively is the meaning of traditional literacy. However, because of the modern ways to use technology, digital literacy now has a broader range of skills, including reading novels on e-Book, checking the validation of information on websites, communicating through digital media to creating and sharing videos on online platforms.

As of April 17th, 2020, approximately 91.3 percent of enrolled students worldwide, or about 1.5 billion students are unable to attend school due to the Covid-19 pandemic (UNESCO, 2020). As a result, technology, such as the Internet, smartphones, and mobile devices, are becoming important.

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We can see how crucial digital literacy has become in today’s era and situation, since nowadays students rely on the Internet as a primary source of information, students and teachers are increasingly focused on the benefits of digital literacy skills in schools. Digital literacy is important for students to become a citizen who is able to use technology to interact with the modern era. However, some parents are concerned about the bad effects of digital literacy because it is based on the Internet. They worry about the safety of their children’s private data like a phone number and address that might risk bullying or predators. Even with all these concerns, digital literacy brings more benefits as long as we use it for positive change and that is why we need to introduce how to apply digital literacy properly and safely.

One of the primary reasons that digital literacy is important for education is that digital literacy increases student interest in reading. One example of technology utilization as a literacy movement media is the digital book. Digital books can be a solution to increase interest in reading. Books used to be in the form of sheets of paper but now books are not only in the form of paper but also digital. Digital books or usually called E-book consist of text, images, videos, even sounds that are published in digital form which can be read in computer, cell phone and other technology devices. Nowadays more and more digital books can be downloaded for free. Digital books are usually an electronic version of printed books. Digital literacy-based learning accommodates centered learning to students. Students encouraged to seek information through various references, both printed and digital materials. Using digital books or other digital learning tools for solving problems, making creative projects, or doing other assignments can boost student interest in studying, especially reading. Because being digital means that we have to be active, students have to discover how to use new tools, collect resources and communicate digitally. Although there are several advantages, many people argue that digital books have a problem in convenience. It is true that reading digital books is not comfortable enough because we readers have to stare at the monitor screen for a long time. However, most electronic devices such as cell phones, laptop, computer, and tablet support reading mode technology. By turning on reading mode, it will help reduce blue light from the screen that causes eye fatigue.

Another reason is digital literacy helps students to study faster. Before technology developed as now, getting various kinds of information is still very limited. In the past, teachers used to encourage students to read books with a dictionary right next to them. So, if they find some difficult words, they will easily look up the definition in the dictionary. It is very different from now, where there are already a lot of information sources that can be accessed anytime and anywhere. As technology develops, education also continues to innovate. Previously, students had to carry books everywhere if they wanted to read. This is certainly less efficient. But now, there is no need to bother carrying books anymore because there is an e-book service. Today, they can simply go to an online search engine and search what information they need or difficult words and the definition will come up completely. Technological sophistication helps students to learn easier, but some people think this sophistication will make students lazy to read because the material can be obtained from the Internet without having to take a copy, write or buy a book. This will result in a decrease in students’ interest in reading. In this case, parents have a role to teach children about the need and importance of using technology so that children will understand when and where they have to use the technology appropriately. In addition, teachers also play a role in providing knowledge about globalization and providing understanding to students regarding the benefits and impacts of technological advances, both information technology, communication and other technologies. The environment in which they live also affects the development of children in the face of technological advances, the environment with children who prefer to play in nature is better for children’s cognitive development, than environments with children who like to play video games. Therefore, it takes the role of parents, teachers and the environment so that technological sophistication can be carried out in a balanced manner.

Furthermore, digital literacy teaches students to be a digital citizen. Being a good digital citizen that understands and applies digital technology properly. Every day, new technology is developed, and online communication is becoming a more popular and important means of establishing and sustaining relationships. Technology in education, career hunting, and job navigation, as well as meetings and conferences, are only a few of the many areas that students’ knowledge and use of technology will continue to be important resources for success. Students are given the information, skills, and tools they need to excel as lifelong learners as they are taught digital citizenship. This also helps them learn to participate in a digital world with responsibility and trust, helping them to flourish as leaders who make a positive difference in other people’s lives. Implementing digital literacy brings the risk of bad habits such as academic plagiarism and cyberbullying. Most students nowadays have Internet access on their devices, so it’s important that they can handle these online environments safely. Therefore, teachers and parents have to be ready to educate their students and children about Internet safety, cyberbullying, and the proper ways to use the Internet. One of the ways is by introducing them to online safety. The goal of teaching online safety is to keep students secure while also encouraging them to access the Internet freely. Teachers must strike a balance between maintaining students’ online protection and encouraging them to explore the Internet’s tools. Informing the students about the dangers and disadvantages of the Internet while also enabling them to use it responsibly is a vital part of keeping them safe online.

Along with the numerous benefits of digital literacy, teachers and parents should require that their students and children take advantage of this current technological development, while also doing prevention to keep these experiences safe through introduction to the safe Internet. It is essential for students to adapt with new technology as digital learning grows to become a digital citizen who is able to use technology to interact with the modern era.

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The Importance of Digital Literacy in Education. (2022, September 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 3, 2023, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-importance-of-digital-literacy-in-education/
“The Importance of Digital Literacy in Education.” Edubirdie, 01 Sept. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/the-importance-of-digital-literacy-in-education/
The Importance of Digital Literacy in Education. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-importance-of-digital-literacy-in-education/> [Accessed 3 Feb. 2023].
The Importance of Digital Literacy in Education [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 01 [cited 2023 Feb 3]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-importance-of-digital-literacy-in-education/
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