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My kids are spending hours a day online. What do you mean they're not digitally literate?!

Results from the latest national assessment round of ICT skills (information and communication technology) show that being a whiz on SnapChat and Instagram won’t prepare kids to face a digital future.

Well, duh.

Proficiency in advanced phone-ology - texting, streaming and posting photos and stories on social media - is one thing. Digital literacy, as defined by the Digital Technologies and ICT Capability units of the Australian Curriculum, is quite another.

Or so suggest results released last week by the National Assessment Program, which found many students’ abilities had actually slumped.  

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Proficiency declining

The assessment compared current student performance on digital literacy with its peak in 2008. Back then, two-thirds of Year 10 students were found to be proficient (and none, presumably, owned their own smartphone.)

Today, only slightly more than half in that age cohort are showing proficiency, despite the soaring rates of mobile device ownership and screen-time use over that period.

Year Six students showed declining levels of digital literacy as well.

time

The Australian Curriculum defines ICT literacy as “The ability of individuals to use ICT appropriately to access, manage and evaluate information, develop new understandings, and communicate with others in order to participate effectively in society.”

Two new curricula designed to promote digital literacy - ICT Capability and Digital Technologies - were rolled out in 2015.

No surprises

Should we be surprised that using technology does not necessarily translate into understanding technology? Not really.

  • Did passing notes in school make you a more proficient writer?
  • Did reading comic books or trashy teen mags hone your analytical skills?
  • Did watching lots and lots of television turn you into a TV critic?
  • Did listening to Top 40 radio hone your grasp of ethno-musicology?

We’re guessing probably not.

It’s not that staring at a screen eight or more hours isn’t teaching our children anything. But is it teaching them anything we really want them to learn?


There’s a big difference between being tech savvy and being digitally literate. At Family Zone, our business is helping children use technology critically and mindfully. Learn more at familyzone.com

feature photo credit:  Dmitry Naumov/Shutterstock)

Topics: Cyber Safety, Mobile Apps, Parental Controls, digital literacy

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