Imagine you are sitting in front of a desktop computer, having never seen one before, with the goal of emailing your doctor to schedule an appointment using your new patient portal. You would not know the intricacies of signing up for an email address so your physician could establish an account for you, much less be able to access it.
However, if you had access to the technology and understood how to use it, you are increasing your digital literacy.
Digital literacy is the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills.
As people begin to develop these skills, technology can add more value to their life, which begins to increase their perceived value of the importance of a computer, other digital devices or the internet.
There are five key characteristics of a digitally literate person. The digitally literate person:
- Possesses the variety of skills – technical and cognitive – required to find, understand, evaluate, create, and communicate digital information in a wide variety of formats
- Can use diverse technologies appropriately and effectively to retrieve information, interpret results, and judge the quality of that information
- Understands the relationship between technology, life-long learning, personal privacy, and stewardship of information
- Uses these skills and the appropriate technology to communicate and collaborate with peers, colleagues, family, and on occasion, the general public
- Uses these skills to actively participate in civic society and contribute to a vibrant, informed, and engaged community
Recent research shows that digital and computer skills training increases new internet subscribers' desire to use the internet for ongoing learning, increasing their job skills and searching for jobs.