There are many risks associated with letting children spend too much time online. Apart from health consequences, like straining their eyes, children might be exposed to digital threats, such as violent content, identity fraud, and digital scams.
Well-meaning adults would limit children’s digital use to protect them from these dangers. However, by taking children away from the screens, kids might not be able to develop the skills needed to survive and thrive in the 21st-century economy. They might not develop the Digital Intelligence required to use technologies safely and leverage the internet for self-actualization.
The World Economic Forum defines Digital Intelligence (DQ) as a set of cognitive, emotional, and social skills that allow people to meet the demands of digital life. Whereas before, children could finish school without knowing how to use a computer, today, digital skills are necessary to keep up with new learning tools. Students of all levels, from preschool to graduate studies, are expected to have a good grasp of online learning tools.
The need for DQ goes beyond academic success. Being adept at technology is also a skill required by many employers, as operations across various industries become more heavily reliant on software and automation.
As such, children must be introduced to the power of technology as early as their preschool years. By teaching children responsible use of digital devices, guardians lay a solid foundation for a tech-savvy academic and professional life.
The Eight Crucial Digital Skills
DQ can be broken down into eight interconnected areas, which call for corresponding skills that a child needs to master.
- Digital Identity – With the help of adults, children learn how to create an online identity and personal profiles that are safe and contain no sensitive information about themselves. They understand the impact of the online persona on their lives.
- Digital Use – Children learn the prudent use of technologies and understand the risks if screen addiction. They develop a healthy balance between their online life and offline activities.
- Digital Security – Children learn how to prevent digital security issues, like creating strong passwords, using the right security tools, and keeping private data offline. They also learn how to detect these threats and respond accordingly.
- Digital Safety – Kids learn how to manage online risks, steer clear of predators, and use only sites that are safe for children. They know when to alert someone whenever something doesn’t feel right or safe.
- Digital Literacy – Children learn how to use digital platforms to achieve their goals, like using search engines effectively, filtering reliable websites, and storing and retrieving data.
- Digital Communication – Children master different communication channels available online to reach out to different people.
- Digital Rights – Children understand their personal and legal rights involving digital spaces, like rights to privacy and intellectual property.
- Digital Emotional Intelligence – Children know how to behave appropriately in digital spaces. They understand that what they post affects not only them, but also others, and this self-awareness will guide them in making prudent decisions.
By teaching children how to use digital technologies properly, they are on track to tap their full potential. They will be responsible and disciplined as they navigate the digital economy and forge success in their careers.