Following in the footsteps of ‘Intelligence Quotient’ (IQ) and ‘Emotional Quotient’ (EQ), we now have a new pretender with a very strong claim to the skills throne: ‘Digital Quotient’ or DQ, which is a measure of the digital literacy competence of children.
Given today’s rapidly evolving technological world and with the continuing developments in the digital age that we live in – from the internet to smartphones and social media – our children need to have a solid mastery of these evolving digital platforms.
This year in the United Kingdom, the House of Lords Communications Committee recommended that “digital literacy sits alongside reading, writing and mathematics as the fourth pillar of a child’s education; and that no child should leave school without a well-rounded understanding of the digital world.” (‘Growing up with the internet’ report)
So, what exactly does DQ comprise?
It can be divided into three main components:
- digital citizenship or the ability to follow the right code of behaviour and to be aware of the many dangers that can lurk online
- digital creativity which is applying the tools, for example in terms of content contribution or learning how to code
- digital entrepreneurship is about harnessing the technology to bring about change and innovation
Becoming model digital citizens
It is the responsibility of both educators and parents to teach digital and social media skills, particularly given the much-publicised threats to children online. That’s why developing and teaching skills such as critical thinking and empathy will not only help keep our children safe but also make them realise just how their online behaviours can affect others.
Role of parents
Parents, for example, need to differentiate between the real and cyber worlds, ask their children about both and ensure that they maintain a healthy balance between the two. It’s a case of monitoring their activity, on computers and mobile devices. The child must know that their parents are there to support and help them deal with any problems that might arise.
Role of teachers
If they are to unlock the potential of their students, teachers for their part must be trained to “learn how to use information and communications technology (ICT) tools in the classroom if they want to motivate students to learn and to help increase their skills for entrepreneurship and employment … discovering new ways in which they can foster creative and critical thinking among students,” says Michelle Tapia, Head of Education Strategy and Innovation at Globe Telecom in The Philippines.
Digital citizenship is the foundation of digital intelligence. It is up to parents and teachers to ensure that children have those important DQ skills that can enable them to navigate the technology, interact with the world safely while at the same time allow them to unleash the potential for creativity and innovation.