My parents didn’t teach me about digital literacy

When I was a child, I recall my parents taking the time to make sure I understood things. For example, my father taught me to use a firm handshake and look the person right in the eyes. My mother made sure I knew which fork to use and to treat everyone with respect, even if they didn’t deserve it. That is what they knew so that is what I knew. As a school administrator, I have the opportunity to interact with many parents and families on a daily basis.  When our school became a 1 to 1 iPad pilot school, and a flood of new issues became our reality, I found myself reflecting on what my parents taught me.  The majority of the parents in our school of 700 are around my age and it dawned on me…they are probably in the same boat I now find myself in…my parents didn’t teach me about digital literacy.

The world has changed and our reality in a school setting includes digital tools and online environments which have required new knowledge and a mandate to educate our students on how best to negotiate these environments and interact with these tools. 

Simek & Simek state that the literacy of the 20th century was often called print literacy and media literacy. In our present-day reality, the skills and norms of that era are out of date and require a different understanding and informed response to support the learning of our current school-age generation. Ohler suggests, “The most important job before us as a society is to help our students understand issues of digital responsibility and to do so at school as part of a digital health initiative”.

My parents didn’t teach me about digital literacy, but as we work to better prepare our students to be longstanding contributors to our society, the work we do today will provide them with the tools to pass those skills on…when the time comes.


Ms. Ritter’s Grade 5 Class Bulletin Board: Understanding your digital footprint


13 thoughts on “My parents didn’t teach me about digital literacy”

  1. First of all, I have to tell you how excited I am that you’re blogging now. Yippee!! A great new Edublogger voice.

    I also think that this post can actually speak to so much more than just digital literacy. Our world is changing. Students and their realities are different now. I think of the Kindergarten student that explained Facebook tagging to me, and another child that asked me to just Instagram photos and videos “so my mom will see it.” Then there was a third child that was mixing her yogurt into a mud pie outside. I mentioned that her parents might not like that. Her response: “Just don’t post the photograph. Then they won’t know.” Yes! These kids understand the breadth and power of social media. We may not all be comfortable with our new digital world, but can we ignore its reality? I would love to hear how educators and administrators from different grades and schools support the development of these skills in their students.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Aviva. This was a project in an OPC course I’m taking. No surprise who the moderator is, Debbie Donsky! The simple examples of the impact of digital tools even from a K student perspective is very telling. Thank you for sharing.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hoping to see you continue blogging way after the course finishes. It’s great to see and hear more voices in education. Debbie Donsky is a favourite blogger of mine. Love to know that she’s inspiring some more bloggers.



  2. I really liked the reflection you did on the need for education in digital citizenship. We did a press piece a few years ago about this topic and one of the things that dawned on me as I was prepping was that we will never have the time or motivation to learn as quickly and as efficiently as kids when it comes to both hardware and software/apps. Kids dive in to the newest trendy app and they teach each other the ins and outs before adults even know it exists. That’s why it’s so important that we teach kids digital citizenship and critical thinking skills. We can’t hold their hand through every life experience. We have to teach them and then trust them, just like our parents did for us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Kids dive in to the newest trendy app and they teach each other the ins and outs before adults even know it exists…” This is so true. Thanks for your thoughts.


      1. Sadly, I don’t think this is universally true. Ideally it would be. We still have a lot of knowledge and experience to share. It takes more than “digital literacy” to master the digital realm, let alone use it responsibly. Without us to help provide a context for use, it can be a bit like a child trying to play a board game on their own. While we celebrate this achievement of a digitally experienced generation outpacing us, we need to see it as a challenge to stay a few steps ahead at least.


      2. Hi Ryan.
        Thanks for your perspective. Your ideas are a welcome perspective. Thanks for taking the time to post.


  3. Gerry – you know how to keep your plans under wraps! So happy to stumble upon your blog through Doug Peterson. Congrats on your first post!

    I enjoyed reading your thoughts – our parents are so influential in all we become for better and for worse. I wonder if looking someone in the eye and using the right fork could translate into digital literacy?

    Keep blogging!


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