Enhancing Children's Digital Competency
Using the Internet has become an integral part of everyday life; pushing parents to be like their children, Digital citizens. They seek more knowledge about the Internet, and what it can offer them and their children. They also work to empower themselves and their children with digital skills that enable them to fulfill their obligations to their business and family. It also helps them access different sources of knowledge and communication.
However, despite all of that; They still feel increasingly challenged in their competency and their role in supporting their children's digital competence in light of the gap in digital skills and competence between them and their children. In addition to their fears of the dangers for their children on every website, platform, or application. It has become very important to help them adapt so that they can improve and support their children’s digital competence and enable them to learn and grow in the digital age.
What is digital competence?
The concept of digital competence is an emerging modern concept, represented by a group of synonyms used by digital professionals, such as information and communication technology skills, twenty-first-century skills, digital literacy, and other terms.
The term competency has become more used than skills in recent consultations, reflecting the need for broader and deeper conceptual content. Digital competence not only consists of digital skills but also includes the social and emotional aspects of using and understanding digital devices. It is a concept related to the development of technologies, goals, and expectations in the knowledge society. Digital competence consists of a set of digital skills and competencies, covering several areas, including media and communications, technology and computing, digital literacy, and comprehensive informatics. Digital competence consists of several axes:
- Possessing the technical skills necessary to use digital technologies in a meaningful way in various activities for work, study, and daily life in general.
- The ability to think critically when using digital technologies, and evaluate them critically.
- Having motives to participate in the digital culture at local and global levels.
The importance of parents' support for their children’s digital competence:
Since digital technologies have become a part of family life, and an important need in the era of knowledge and knowledge-based economy; and based on the main role of parents in supporting their children, and empowering them with life skills to be productive members of their society who are able to meet the requirements of life; and since children are the most connected in their daily lives with digital technologies, as this connection grows day by day and their need to possess the required digital skills increases. based on the rapid and continuous growth in the field of technology, and the change in lifestyle, it has become imperative for parents to fulfill their children’s rights despite all the challenges that parents may face, like psychological and emotional concerns for their children, and fears of their exposure to various risks arising from digital use, economic challenges related to the provision of various devices and technologies to their children, social challenges related to customs, traditions and parental authority, or challenges parents face related to knowledge and skills like the extent of digital knowledge and skills they have and their ability to develop and catch up with its accelerated pace, and to benefit from it to improve and support their children’s digital competence.
In addition to all this, parents have sufficient awareness that if they do not meet the needs of their children in all areas, including improving their digital competence, they will resort to getting their needs met through other channels, which may not be safe, and often contain risks.
Supporting children's digital competency:
The following are tips, strategies and activities that you can use to support your children's digital competence:
Parents have a fairly great knowledge of the importance of digital skills and competencies that the digital age demands today, but they do not know or realize how they can provide support to their children. As we mentioned earlier it has become very important to help parents achieve this; In order for them to improve and support their children’s digital competence, and enable them to learn and grow in the digital age.
In this context, we can provide some instructions, ideas, strategies, and activities that contribute to achieving this. They can be easily implemented and applied, by using daily tasks, entertainment activities, discussions, family sessions, etc. to improve and support their children’s digital competence, and they can be turned into permanent and continuous educational opportunities. We can summarize the most important of these guidelines, ideas, strategies, and activities as follows:
- Continuous communication with children: use group or bilateral family sessions to build positive, stable emotional bonds with your children, by continuing to talk to them about their activities they do using digital technologies regardless of the level of confidence in your digital skill, and this includes the following:
- asking questions and inquiring to help them discover their capabilities and the extent of their digital competence, and reach what they need to improve. for example: What are the tasks and activities you do online? How many times have you done that? How long did it take you to do it? I want to benefit and learn from your digital skills. What skills do you have? What are the challenges and risks that you face while using digital technologies? To whom do you turn to for help and support? And other questions.
- Discussing with them the potential risks of using digital devices and technologies related to privacy, safe browsing of the Internet, etc., and how they can benefit from this in directing their activities. This improves their self-confidence and abilities, pushes them to expand their circle of research and discovery, and contributes to developing their digital skills and improving their competencies.
- Participation, sharing, and interaction: try to share, and encourage some family members to share, some digital experiences with your children. Watch, play, and interact with them when they use digital devices. You can also assign them targeted digital tasks. We can elaborate on this through the following:
- Share some of your digital experiences on the Internet, apps, and digital devices, and use it to guide them on how to use privacy settings, critically evaluate content and behavior, the importance and benefits of these technologies, how to benefit from them, and how they can develop their skills.
- Participate with your children in watching, playing, and interact with them. That can provide a good opportunity to give them advice and share your experiences, especially with regard to problem-solving and critical thinking. It's also an opportunity to provide advice about content restrictions, such as blocking certain websites or preventing attacks through filters and firewalls which contributes to improving their digital skills and competencies.
- Direct some adult family members, or relatives, to communicate and interact with your children, through phone or computer applications, and to exchange files and store them; in order to improve their abilities and skills.
- Communicate with your children's schools and teachers, and ask them to implement educational practices, communication processes, and exchange information using digital technologies with your children.
- Assign your children some tasks at home, such as researching specific topics on the Internet, and other tasks aimed at training them and improving their digital skills.
- Empowerment instead of restriction: Restricting access to devices, websites, content, or digital applications may be effective in keeping children safe online. However, it can at the same time prevent your children from developing and improving their digital skills and competence. Causing them to miss opportunities to train and develop and make the most of what was withheld from them. Parents are aware that some activities may be important to their children's current and future opportunities to learn and gain information, work, and participation in their community. Therefore, parents are required to find a balance between empowerment and restriction in order for them to fulfill their responsibilities towards supporting and empowering their children and preparing them for the digital age and its developments. You should also be aware that making mistakes is a natural thing for children, due to their lack of knowledge and experience in life, so do not make this a reason for restricting them, but rather make it an opportunity for learning and improving performance.
- leading by example: Since your children imitate what you do, you can use this in empowering them with digital skills and improving their competence. When carrying out some tasks, use some of your digital skills while they are with or near you.
- Being ready for support: This does not mean only having time to provide support for your children, it also includes eradicating your digital illiteracy, by yourself or with the help of others, in order to be able to improve your children's digital competence.
- Training, and financial support opportunities: You must provide sufficient and appropriate devices for your children in terms of their modernity and efficiency, in addition to a reliable and appropriate internet connection that helps them to carry out their digital activities effectively. You can also direct your children to enroll in local or remote training courses or to benefit from the skills of their peers, or even their teachers to improve and support their digital competence.
Finally, we can say that the opportunities to improve our children's digital competence are many and varied, and it is not wise to waste any of them, in light of this rapid growth of technology in our lives, but rather we must look for these opportunities and take advantage of them so that we can fulfill our children's rights and needs, prepare them for life, with confident steps, and help them become confident individuals, producers not consumers, and help them be able to respond to the requirements of the digital age with efficiency and competence.