Media Literacy + Digital Citizenship = Digital Literacies


Technology Use by mrsdkrebs, on Flickr Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  mrsdkrebs 
I am a parent of a boy in Grade 7 and a daughter in Grade 5. They each have their own iPad mini, iPod and laptop (well, Hannah “says” the MacBook is hers…). And, as most kids their ages, they are hooked to Minecraft Youtube videos, IHasCupquake (Vlogger) and The Diamond Mindcart YouTuber. My husband and I often question how much screen is too much and because nothing they are watching is anywhere close to our interests, we question what they are watching.


We would like to think we’ve raised our children to be critical of what they see online, on TV, in ads and in life, but, as I mentioned in a previous post, Media Literacy and The Canadian Election, no matter how much we think kids might not notice or care about media, we know they are hearing it and, in some cases, believing it.

But isn’t teaching kids to be critical about the media they see online and being smart online a Digital Citizenship criteria? So how are media literacy and digital citizenship connected?

Doug Belshaw is a speaker of digital literacies. In his TEDx talk: The essential elements of digital literacies, he talks about the 8 digital literacies that are emerging and what they mean.

According to Media Smarts “Digital literacy is more than technological know-how: it includes a wide variety of ethical, social, and reflective practices that are embedded in work, learning, leisure, and daily life.”

Professionalism in the Digital Environment (PRiDE) helped to break down Belshaw’s 8 digital literacies:

  1. Cognitive: Knowing how to use various technologies and tools. (Media Literacy)
  2. Constructive: How to take the existing content and re-mix it to create something new. (Media Literacy)
  3. Communicative: The importance of communicating in different forms and on different devices. (Media Literacy)
  4. Civic: Being a part of the digital society and the role we will play in it. (Digital Citizenship)
  5. Critical: Having an awareness of the power of media and who the audience is. (Digital Citizenship)
  6. Creative: The creation of new content to share. (Media Literacy)
  7. Confident: The understanding of your own digital competencies and finding a community to help you better develop them. (Digital Citizenship)
  8. Cultural: Being able to differentiate between social and professional uses. (Digital Citzenship)

On Wednesday, September 30th, CTV Regina headlined a story about how politics and religion do sometimes go hand in hand. With the current slander happening on social media outlets about the migrant situation in Canada and abroad and that being one of the hot topics in our political debates, the need for digital literacy is growing more than ever. I know that my children see the images of the migrants and their plight for a freedom from war and injustice. They see the newcomers everyday in our community. They are seeing the fights about Niquabs and job loss. The major question we need to know is are they questioning what they are seeing and if so, what are they doing about it?

Our very own Katia Hilderbrandt spoke to how we need to teach children to be critical about what they see on media. This is especially important when according to the American Association of Pediatrics, children are spending about 7 hours a day on media deemed as “entertainment” (ex: television, computers, devices, etc).

In his talk, Belshaw says that “every time you’re given a new tool it gives you a different way of impacting the world”. Whether you are using “Success Kid” to create a meme about a snow day, or a Lolcat to describe your reason for not reading

LOLcat-40-of-illiteracy-is-caused-by-cat by Monado, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  Monado 

or a Facebook Post about your opinion on the current migrant situation around the world (sorry about the language)

FullSizeRender (1)

– everything reaches an audience and is “heard”.  Now, most adults have a fairly developed sense of critical reasoning. Most adults can look at a piece of media and make a decision based upon its content and context. But how much critical reasoning does a child have? When a child looks at that post, what do they hear? What are they questioning? And if they are questioning it and do or don’t agree, what are they doing with that media?

In her TEDx talk, Andrea Quijada, a media literacy advocate and expert, talks about how we need to teach students to find the untold story- how to deconstruct media and think critically about what we see and hear. Basically – incorporate the Critical and Civic roles in digital literacy and then create your version of the truth of it – which is the Construct and Create roles of the digital literacies.

With the new push of the Digital Citizenship Education Guide recently implemented by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Education and the reality of what children are seeing on a daily basis in all types of media – are the digital literacies really just a “one section” importance as shown in the document now in all our Saskatchewan schools?  Or, should the digital literacies play a bigger role in how we teach our children to live and interact in a digital world?


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