Traditionally, media literacy refers to the ability to critically understand the nature, techniques and impact of media messages. In today's world however, we not only consume media but are also communicators and purveyors of information, empowered by digital technologies. As such, media literacy skills today encompass not just critical thinking, but also communication and information management skills that reflect the realities of living in a digital world.
In an age of convergence between media and digital technology, and where that technology is increasingly central to communication and a participatory culture, digital literacy has come to be defined as much more than just technical competence. Digital competence today includes the broader social, legal, ethical and economic aspects of digital use1.
Where media and digital literacy intersect is about using literacy skills (the ability to understand, contextualize and critically evaluate) coupled with the ability to create content and communicate across a range of digital media platforms, and factoring in the consideration of ethics and social practices that are embedded in work, leisure and daily life.
According to Canada's Mediasmarts2, the term "multi-literacies" is often used to describe the various aptitudes and abilities that are needed for us to use, understand and create digital media. Under the "digital literacy umbrella" are a wide range of inter-related skills that traditionally fall under media literacy, technology literacy, information literacy, visual literacy, communication literacy and social literacies.
What is a Digital & Media Literate Person?
In Singapore's context, we would like to define a digital and media literate person as someone who is able to:
- Critically evaluate and interpret information on media platforms, both online and offline
- Make wise choices about the information they create, post and share online
- Take responsibility for their actions and show good judgement in their online interactions
- Recognize the online risks and take appropriate action to protect self and others (what Singaporeans understand as "cyber wellness")
- Exemplify the concept of digital citizenship by being active, responsible and innovative contributors to digital society