Understanding your way around technology improves your chances in life. Digital literacy doesn’t mean reading a book online. The only difference between reading a physical book and reading online is a page versus a screen. There’s little learning in that because anyone can do it.

Digital literacy means much more than that. It means learning how to research, protect, and perform using digital tools and technology.

What’s good about digital literacy?

I was born learning from books in school and life experiences, the old-fashioned way. I didn’t start working with technology for quite some time. Now, technology provides almost everything, and most of our research today is done through this mode of learning.

As much as I appreciated the old techniques of learning from the 80s, I realize that tech literacy in today’s digital age is the path to success now, and we can widen and improve that pathway as well.

How to improve your digital literacy:

1. Implement social media

Some say that social media can be bad for people, but it can also be a great tool for learning. After all, they spend loads of time on these various social platforms anyway. Since they already know a bit about social media, there’s an opportunity to teach them how to learn through this media too.

Let’s take a look at a few examples: Facebook can be used to communicate ideas through quick chat. You can also post images and ideas on “the wall” of an individual’s social media. Twitter is great for quick messages, and Pinterest is perfect for posting categories of images and ideas. You can even used LinkedIn for professional services such as networking and looking for jobs.

2. Online comparisons

While the internet does contain false information, it isn’t all bad for learning and becoming successful. To avoid ingesting false information, and retaining digital literacy, it’s important to consult multiple online sources in order to find the truth.

One way that I’ve learned important information online is to use the majority of matching facts to find the truth. Usually, false information isn’t repeated in multiple sources, but only usually, so you have to be able to discern what makes logical sense.

3. Learning from reputable sources

The internet is full of information, some true, and some false. That’s why learning about reputable sources is so important. While there may be many “.com” sites that provide correct information, only the scientifically proven truths can be found on “.gov or .edu.” sites and such.

It’s so important when striving to be successful in life, to get the correct information, and moreover, share that information with others. Not only are you learning, but you are helping others. Reputable sources prevent the spread of untruths, which can clog learning and drastically decrease the chances of the success you are looking for.

4. Learn to avoid plagiarism

No, the internet hasn’t stopped plagiarism. It’s happening all the time. But by witnessing the different forms of plagiarism and how it ruins education, you can use this knowledge to perform better research, take better notes and learn about citing sources.

Also, you learn about using resources that fueled your work, of course, the work you created in your own words, that is. So digital literacy does much more than just helps us learn, it helps us become successful as genuine people.

5. Learning how to avoid digital distractions

This may be the most difficult part of excelling in digital literacy of all. It is so easy to get distracted while online, especially if you have multiple pages open. Now, I know research requires this sometimes, but it’s easier if you can, at least, mute notifications during this process. While reading, the other pages may remain open, but they can be left in the background until you’re finished.

Also, always avoid multitasking. Although many people brag about being able to do more than one thing at a time, it’s not really as effective as you think. Yes, you may be moving through several tasks at once, but you’re not putting your full potential on any of them.

Digital literacy, in this case, means learning how to halt distractions whatever they may be, even outside distractions. Then the job gets done correctly and with your full attention.

6. Respecting netiquette

When using social media for learning purposes, there will be many conversations, and there will also be debates. A debate is not necessarily an argument, but just a difference in an opinion discussed by two or more people.

I’ve personally watched debates turn ugly and it was a shame to me. Instead of learning, most of the people in the fights came away with anger, resentment, and bitterness. Friends were lost and some were even temporarily blocked from the media platform.

So, respecting netiquette, or online etiquette, allows each person to have an opinion, whether it aligns with others or if it differs. Having differences of opinions opens up avenues for even more learning, and prompts more questions.

What could be more beneficial to being successful than asking questions and receiving answers, sharing intellect, and being corrected? Sometimes you even get to keep your opinion and understand that it’s okay to think differently.

7. Leaving the comfort zone

I believe that everyone has an area that scares them concerning technology, and so they stay in their comfort zones. They choose to retain only a little bit of information they’ve learned instead. However, leaving that comfort zone helps us become more proficient in digital literacy, which pretty much runs most of society today.

Yes, most kids can make small posts with hashtags, but there is so much more to be understood. Instead of these small posts, they could learn how to create a blog to share what they’ve learned with others.

Creating blogs and websites seems daunting, and this is why leaving the comfort zone is so important. You learn blogging, website and content creation, and even how to check your own website status. You can monitor your progress which helps to boost your morale.

8. Protecting identity and image

I will admit that identity theft is rampant in our society today, but it’s not just happening online. However, the most successful person must learn how to protect certain aspects of their online identity.

We leave digital footprints wherever we go, and so that’s why it’s important to safeguard our identity in as many ways as possible.  You should manage your privacy settings, two-step identification, and other techniques in order to keep unwanted individuals from stealing your identity and causing serious problems.

Just as you must protect your identity, it is also important to retain a positive online image. Trust me, it’s easier to start out protected and with a good image than when you have to repair issues.

Unfortunately, after being irresponsible online for many years, I have to continuously monitor my privacy and try to improve my identity. It has caused me career opportunities I would have if those mistakes had never happened.

Thriving in this digital age

We can hold on to some “old-fashioned ways”, there’s nothing wrong with that, but learning new online techniques can greatly change the outcome of our success in life.

We may even understand technology to a certain degree already, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive to learn more and push ourselves to the outer limits of digital literacy. I say we come out of those comfort zones and learn as much as we can.

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