The Right to
Digital Literacy

To access the knowledge that the internet can deliver, children and young people need to be taught the skills to use, create and critique digital technologies, and given the tools to negotiate changing social norms.

Digital technologies are used to socialise, to work, to play, to communicate, to learn and to explore. In short, they affect every aspect of a young person’s life. To be a 21st century citizen means being digitally literate.

Building on every child’s right to an education that develops all individuals to their fullest potential, young people should be enabled to engage with the digital world not just as users and consumers but also as makers, confident and skilled enough to create websites, apps, games and other materials.

Equally they should have the chance to learn about the realities of the digital world, with a grasp of the underlying motivations of actors in digital spaces, and the ability to manage new social norms and their own reputation online.

There is a risk of a widening gap between the potential of technology and the reality of young people’s ability to use and understand that it deliberately orchestrates certain responses. Bridging that gap requires a big change in how young people are educated and a commensurate change in what adults understand as the components of digital literacy.

It must be right that children and young people learn how to be digital makers as well as intelligent consumers, to critically understand the structures and syntax of the digital world, and to be confident in managing new social norms. To be a 21st century citizen, children and young people need digital capital.

Through the eyes of young people:

“What we post online is permanent”

“If we put some immature content online, it could affect our ability to find jobs.”

“Sometimes people don’t think before they act and they can be mean to someone without knowing and wish to take it down later.”