Adults may see it as digital life –
but to kids, it’s “just life.”
Welcome to their world.
- 93% of kids 12 to 17 are online
- More than 35 hours of videos are uploaded to YouTube every minute
- A majority of teens view their cell phone as the key to their social life
- If Facebook were a country, it would be the third most populous in the world
What Is Digital Life?
Digital life describes the media world that our kids inhabit 24/7 – online, on mobile phones and other devices, and anywhere media is displayed. By definition, digital media is participatory. Users can create content, and anything created in this digital life becomes instantly replicable and viewable by vast invisible audiences. Kids use digital media to socialize, do their homework, express themselves, and connect to the world. New technologies give our kids unprecedented powers of creation and communication, making the world more accessible at earlier and earlier ages.
The Need for Digital Literacy and Citizenship
This dynamic new world requires new comprehension and communication skills – as well as new codes of conduct – to ensure that these powerful media and technologies are used responsibly and ethically. Much of the interaction in this digital world happens at a distance, which can diminish kids’ perception of cause and effect, action and consequence. Additionally, digital life can take place under the cloak of anonymity and alias, making it easier to participate in unethical and even illegal behaviors.
Digital Literacy and Citizenship means the ability to
- use technology competently
- interpret and understand digital content and assess its credibility
- create, research, and communicate with appropriate tools
- think critically about the ethical opportunities and challenges of the digital world
- make safe, responsible, respectful choices online
Digital Literacy and Citizenship programs are an essential element of media education and involve basic curriculum tools that foster critical thinking and creativity. These programs also include educational tools for kids, parents, and teachers that address both positive online behaviors that support collaboration and community and negative online behaviors to avoid – such as cyberbullying, hate speech, and revealing too much personal information.
Introductory data references:
1 Pew Internet and American Life Project, “Generations Online in 2009.”
2 YouTube Blog, “Great Scott! Over 35 Hours of Video Uploaded Every Minute to YouTube,” November 10, 2010.
3 CTIA – The Wireless Association and Harris Interactive, “Teenagers: A Generation Unplugged,” September 12, 2008.
4 San Francisco Chronicle, “The Many Facets of Facebook,” January 1, 2011.