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Who Teaches Digital Literacy?

Updated: 5 days ago

Today’s education landscape looks different from times past. Many argue that an educator’s role is to equip learners to be digitally literate. One author implores the reader that media literacy is best taught by educators in the K-12 school systems. While this doesn’t seem like a bad idea, this begs the question of why add yet another task for the K-12 educator.

Digital Media literacy is first on a micro-level a reflection of society. Societies and cultures potentially influence the direction of education particularly those in political or powerful positions with influence and resources (especially financial).

Given this, parents need to ensure their children are equipped for all of life, including the digital world. If parent/s are the first influential persons in a learner's life then it seems reasonable to implore parents to teach their children to be digitally literate. This would seem just as important as learning how to budget and balance a bank account effectively.

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During my child-rearing years, it was clear there were unknown nuances resulting in often uncomfortable and unfamiliar conversations about experiences or beliefs surrounding the role that digital media plays in today’s world. One memorable story is when my 17-year-old daughter was baited by a scammer who was paying people with fraudulent checks. The details are not necessary to demonstrate the point that falling for a scammer created quite a mess for the banks and my daughter to clean up. It is fair to say that access to technologies has created a space for the rapid growth of scamming. Consequently, it is critical to ensure we are equipped to recognize what is real and what is fake in the digital world.

Teaching any skill ultimately rests on the parent/s and/or guardian/s, in the K-12 years. Those/- parents/guardians born before technology and who have not returned to any form of skills training or post-secondary education to learn digital media skills are not alone and could benefit from viewing digital literacy skills as an important skill to gain in a digital world.

Digital media literacy skills are an essential part of our daily lives.

After all Jim Morrison put it plainly,

“Whoever controls the media controls the mind.”

From understanding online banking to navigating news sources, being a digitally literate citizen is a must! When considering the skill sets one needs to survive and remain informed of technological advances, it is helpful to consider the following characteristics:

Critical Thinking


Mindsets that ask: is what I am hearing, seeing, and involved in empowering and safe for me? Teaching children to think critically is important now more than ever (Willis, 2011).



Curiosity drives critical thinking. Motivation and a desire to learn can lead to thinking critically and decoding through questions to make proper evaluations of what the senses take in.



Remaining teachable leaves room for a little rule-breaking when needed. Rule breakers innovate and we need innovators! (Design Thinking, 2017).

Concluding with a few points for parents and educators to consider, first, aside from the importance of digital literacy, we must consider that when technology is given greater importance than people, sadly, we risk losing those “moments,” Alton (2016). The teachable moments, the moments of connection. This can lead to young people who compare themselves to one another based on the superficial experience of social media reverting to competition instead of community. In an article discussing the woes of technology, Galagan (2013), “warns that the Internet is not only making us more superficial, but is also affecting our ability to learn.”

Secondly, we realize there are benefits to technology and the digitization of many processes in education like online courses. On the contrary, we must question if the benefits of technology outweigh the negative changes and influence brought about by some technologies. I would answer with a resounding yes given we are digitally literate and use technology to improve our way of life.

The call to action then is: if you influence any one child, ask them one basic question that is sure to strike up a conversation: how do they know the person/company on the other side is who they say they are? Please do not expect a real answer, just leave it there to create a space to go back to over and over again. Most often when I asked this question in my household the answer was a resounding, “I don’t know,” (with an annoyed tone of voice) but I also knew the can of worms was opened for me to return to over and over again.

Check out the post on the role technology has on those with conditions that impact learning like sensory processing sensitivity (SPS).


Alton, Larry (2016). 4 Ways Technology Impacts the Way We Think.

Galagan, Pam. (2013). Technology and the interrupted brain. 67(9), 22-5. ProQuest.

Taylor, Jim. (2012). How Technology Is Changing the Way Children Think and Focus.

Willis, Judy (2011). Understanding How the Brain Thinks.

#parenting #teachableness #digitalmedia #youngbrains #Learning #SPS #society #parents #criticalthinking #digitalmedialiteracy #learners #postsecondaryeducation #educators #Children #SensoryProcessingSensitivity #curiousity

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