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Technology skills: what they are and why they are needed by the youngest

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Digital skills I am a universe of technological skills – also defined as digital hard skills – and digital soft skills ranging from the ability to use a computer, to software development for artificial intelligence passing through more relational and behavioral skills that allow people to effectively use the new digital tools: from the protection of their data to netiquette in the use of social media; from searching for information online to creating digital content.

So I’m not a closed box but they change all the time with the evolution of technologies and will also change with the passage of time, because what today is considered “digital literacy”, once universally acquired, will be taken for granted.

The European Union has tried to give it a standard definition describing them as “basic skills in information and communication technologies: the use of computers to find, evaluate, store, produce, present and exchange information as well as to communicate and participate in collaborative networks via the Internet”.

In the next future, 9 out of 10 jobs will require digital skills but 44% of the European population between 16 and 74 have low digital skills and 19% have no *.


The digital skills needed by students

But what are the most important digital skills for young students of today and tomorrow? Eight are the necessary ones** and on which the world of education must invest time, resources and attention:

  • Digital identity: the awareness of one’s online presence, and the ability to manage it better. It is about knowing how to manage your reputation and your online presence.
  • Digital use: the ability to use different devices and systems.
  • Digital safety: the ability to recognize and avoid the risks associated with the use of digital technology, that is, knowing how to recognize the risks of cyberbullying, radicalization, violence, obscenity.
  • Digital security: The ability to recognize the dangers of hacking, scams or malware and understand what practices are required to protect your data and devices.
  • Digital empathy or Digital emotional intelligence: emotional intelligence that allows you to approach the other with awareness even behind a screen.
  • Digital communication: the ability to communicate, collaborate and be understood through the use of technology and media.
  • Digital literacy: the ability to find information online, evaluate its credibility, create your own content and share it in the best way.
  • Digital rights: be aware of the right to freedom of speech and thought, but also of the right to privacy, intellectual property and the still discussed right to be forgotten.

Digital skills and school

The application of digital skills at school it cannot remain within a specific disciplinary field, but must become an increasingly widespread practice capable of involving all activities, both didactic and otherwise.
Children and teenagers and pupils should have the opportunity to develop the approach to digital technologies in all school disciplines to develop their digital competence more and more. Schools therefore need to help accompany the complexity of change, rather than marginalize some aspects as mere risks.

The school can indeed help students, and with them parents, to build positive strategies to face an unprecedented availability of technologies, information and communication.

Digital skills and personal data

At the basis of digital skills, access to data, online participation, digital identity, privacy, are areas of expertise held together by the dimension of protection of personal data online.

It is the era, in fact, in which the lives of all of us are in continuous relationship with the data. It is therefore important that the key concepts underlying these skills can be shared with anyone through digital environments and in particular with more young people, so as to improve their degree of awareness through the deconstruction of knowledge, attitudes and behaviors dictated by failures. irrelevant perceptions or perceptions that they may expose to online risks.

That is why we speak here of data culture – going beyond the concept of privacy which is a specifically legal concept – meaning with this term the possibility of affecting culture and responsibility by raising awareness of the individual with respect to their digital behaviors.


5 tips for kids to protect their data online

  • Choose a “strong” and different password for all your accounts (7 to 15 characters, which does not include known data – such as date of birth, name, telephone number) Change it regularly!
  • Always think about who can see what you post online. Keep the information visible to everyone about you to a minimum. Do not share sensitive info on social network chats which represent one of the most insecure ways to communicate.
  • Review and clean up past posts, tags and activities and remove the history when you finish a work session.
  • If you can use anonymous browsing.

5 tips for parents to protect their data online

  • Define some rules to control and limit, where possible, your child’s online interaction: they should understand right away that an abuse of digital tools it is unhealthy, and that he can only access certain contents, thus helping him to develop his self-control and critical spirit;
  • Teach your child how to block and report when they see or experience something problematic online in order to enhance their control skills; teaches the importance of not disclosing your identity or that of your family or friends online, educating people to respect their privacy and that of others;
  • Install parental control software that allow you to apply adequate filters to the web, through special “black-lists”, periodically checking their effectiveness and functionality;
  • Use games and apps together with your child to understand how it works and understand its effective usefulness and talk with her / him about the risks associated with using the web, listening to what he has to say to recognize the danger signs in time;
  • Never blame your child if you have been a victim of online abuse: the fault always lies with the person who commits the crime and never with the victim, especially if they are a minor.

For further information on the topic, see also the SIC webinar “Digital skills for autonomy paths: good practices, methods and tools” created as part of the Generazioni Connesse project.