Digital Literacy

Are we Sharing Digitally Responsible Material

By Umer Raza

With the onslaught of the social media platforms and its overwhelming “influence on” and “inclusion in” our daily lives we all can be called “addicts”. At the same time we want ourselves to be identified as “Digitally Literate”. Though a shameful word “Addict” as it is mostly been associated with those who may lose sense to act or respond under any external influence or to external element/force. These external influences/elements may be political preferences, religious bigotry, professional jealously, craze to become a celebrity or known, personal marketing or plain naivety of digital footprint. But this is what it is. I have in the past also written over a similar subject in different ways and you can click here to access those articles. and


However, as addiction grows there comes an increased need for understanding of the addiction and what we can be done to minimize its impact if we cannot or do not want to get out of it all. The addiction under question may be not the kind that we may want to get out of, completely, as its benefits are greater than its harms. But at the same time understanding it, is important to maintain a right balance.


In this article I will present some definitions from different sources to magnify the concept. First let’s see what Literacy means. The source of quoted information/text and definitions are also mentioned within.


Literacy is the ability to think critically and communicate effectively through. listening, speaking, reading, and writing in all content areas. In short Literacy is the competence or knowledge in a specified area.


Austintown Local Schools Ohio USA went in depth to define and articulate what they meant from Literacy and what is it’s theory. The literacy theory states that there are aspects of literacy behaviors, skills, ideas, knowledge, and attitudes which children informally acquire before they formally get into classroom, which facilitates the acquisition of conventional reading and writing skills.


Based on their understanding of the literacy it sounds pretty decent with a broader impact on our personal and communal lives…….”behaviors, skills, knowledge and attitudes informally acquired before formal class rooms”. So this sounds like getting these things not from formal classroom but from your parents, siblings, friends, surroundings, environment, people around us etc. and may be with no formal setting. Well! That’s interesting.


According to UNESCO there are three main features of Literacy

  1. Literacy is about the uses people make of it as a means of communication and expression, through a variety of media;
  2. Literacy is plural, being practiced in particular contexts for particular purposes and using specific languages;
  3. Literacy involves a continuum of learning measured at different proficient levels.


There is an interesting detail about a literate person given by two Educationist Maureen Connolly and Vicky Giouroukakis in their research book on “Achieving Next Generation Literacy”. They mentioned “Being a literate person today means more than being able to read and write. In a world diverse with cultures, print texts, media, and technologies, a literate person needs to possess certain specific capabilities”

They moved on to provide seven capabilities of a literate person that included

  1. Literate individuals demonstrate independence with text.
  2. Literate individuals build strong content knowledge.
  3. Literate individuals respond to varying demands of audience, task, purpose, and discipline
  4. Literate individuals comprehend as well as critique.
  5. Literate individuals value evidence.
  6. Literate individuals use technology and digital media strategically and capably.
  7. Literate individuals come to understand other perspectives and cultures.

Source: The above is quoted as it is from the research on “Achieving Next Generation Literacy” by the authors as named above. All above material and definitions are available on internet and can be sourced as such.


Based on the above, let me now move back to our sweet addiction. I would also like to confess that I had been a similar addict in not too distant past (though I show signs of this addiction occasionally now as well).


The definitions above help us to transform our paradigm towards literacy and in essence the digital literacy of today.


Confining ourselves to the digital literacy. It merits its own definition. Following I found closest as” Digital literacy refers to an individual’s ability to find, evaluate, and compose clear information through writing and other media on various digital platforms. Digital literacy is evaluated by an individual’s grammar, composition, typing skills and ability to produce text, images, audio and designs using technology”. This is quite simple while you may read the underlined text above again.


When we see today the use of the digital media we understand that it is very difficult that we could classify such use or literacy with any of the definitions or explanations of literacy. Somehow, at the same time, it is indeed difficult to control and educate people in the use of tools in their hands. This is a very self-destructive tool. As this is our gateway to global audience through online networks such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and such other media. I call it self-destructive as no one does it for you but yourself (other than some fake accounts). You have the handle and touch and you judge/consider the viability of posting, sharing and lecturing at anything that your impulse dictates you to do.


However, combining “digital” and “literacy” brings us to a conclusion that translates as “our ability to think, evaluate and understand clearly and objectively on the basis of evidence about any event/action and respond while understanding the impact of our response on ourselves and our community”.


If we could be able to understand the true meaning of “Literacy” we might very well be on our way to sharing and posting “Digitally responsible material”.


Umer Raza is Managing Partner of Abundance Consulting and a HR consultant and coach. He is author of three books and numerous articles and video programs on HR, Change and different social matters. He can be reached directly at

Published by Umer Raza

He is currently Managing Partner for Abundance Business and Consulting and previously held full time positions at Trans World Associates as Head of Human Resource & Training, Faisalabad Serena Hotel & Islamabad Serena Hotel as Manager Human Resource & Training and Crescent Bahuman Ltd. as Team Lead HR & Training He is authorized trainer, consultant and Coach for National Business Development Program of Government of Pakistan for SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) and a nominated trainer and visiting faculty member for Pakistan Industrial Technical Assistance Center (PITAC).   He is Chartered Member of Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) UK. and author of three books “Choose or be chosen”, “Chahat (The Want)”, “Becoming an Entrepreneur”. Umer is married to Dr. Atika and the couple has three daughters. He can be reached at and his twitter handle is @BhuttaUmer

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