Importance of Digital Literacy: 13 Ways It Can Improve Lives

Published: March 22, 2017 - 9:00am EDT

Girl smiling using an iPad

You may heave heard the term “digital literacy” being used recently, and whether you have a complete understanding of what it is or not, you can bet that it’s increasingly important for you to understand how to become digitally literate.

Digital literacy is essentially the ability to understand and make use of digital technologies. In the modern world, this is increasingly important, as the Internet and digital technology is slowly becoming an essential component of many people’s lives. As time goes on, more and more people are getting online, and utilizing these technologies in their everyday lives, whether for work, or in the home.

Digital literacy is a skill that is important for everyday use, job performance, and personal endeavours. Many digital literacy skills used to be considered noteworthy or impressive, and are now seen as necessary or standard skills. If you don’t want to fall behind, you need to be proactive in your learning of digital technologies. Think of learning digital literacy as an opportunity for learning how to make your life easier, rather than something you need to struggle through to keep up with. With that mentality in mind, we have a list below of 13 ways that digital literacy can improve our life, to help you keep your goals in mind while working through ways to become more digitally literate.

Why is digital literacy important?

Digital literacy is important to establishing your presence in the modern world. Lacking the ability to use digital technologies means that there are many things you simply cannot do or access. Possessing digital literacy allows you to improve the efficiency, access to things, fulfilment, and happiness in your life.

There are so many things that you gain by ensuring you become digitally literate, and we want to shed some light on them for you. This is not an extensive list by any means, as there are thousands of little ways you can improve your life by learning digital literacy skills. Read on to learn some of the basic, everyday ways your life can be improved with digital literacy.

13 ways digital literacy can improve your life

1. Make connections

Making connection with friends, family, colleagues, or simply meeting more people is often the reason many people ‘get online’ in the first place. Many people begin simply by setting up an email account, but it goes much further than that. Getting social media accounts like Facebook or Instagram help many people keep up-to-date with the people in their life, or reconnect with those they haven’t spoken to in years. You can also sign up for a free video calling service like Skype to see and talk to your loved ones when you are separated by great distances.

Young girl using technology

In addition to keeping tabs on those you know, the Internet is a great way to meet like-minded people. If you’re looking for a romantic relationship, dating has never been easier since the invention of online dating websites and apps like eHarmony and Match.com. You can also join groups that meet for sports, hobbies, and activities that you love, or sign up for a service like Meetup that helps you connect with people who enjoy the same things you do.

2. Save time and money

Everyone loves saving money, and when you realize how much time you can save on simple daily tasks like shopping, banking, and general errands, you’ll want to get online quick! Online shopping is one of the best ways that digital literacy makes your life more efficient, as buying items from websites like eBay or Amazon can save you thousands of dollars on retail over time, and save you hours of driving and shopping, as the items are delivered right to your door.

Booking travel has also never been easier than it is now. Many websites such as Homeaway for property rental, or Expedia for booking hotels and resorts, with a collection of all the best travel websites with the lowest prices, can help you get amazing deals on travel, and feel safer while booking. It’s also much easier to compare vacations, or anything you want to shop online for than it is to do these things in a store or at a travel agency. This can help you always get the lowest prices, and even track items over time to see when they drop in price to buy them at the optimal time.

3. Increased safety

When used effectively, becoming digitally literate and understanding good online safety practices can help to increase your safety. There and many ways you can protect your passwords, personal information, appear anonymously, and do more to protect your safety. In addition, if you read the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy of a website, you can easily determine what they do to protect your information, and what action will be taken if anything is compromised.

There are also many risks associated with the use of technology, so it’s important to make sure you understand everything you use, and know how to protect yourself. If you take reasonable precautions to protect yourself, getting online can actually help increase your overall safety.

4. Get a job

The traditional method of showing up at a place of business with your resume in hand is no longer the standard method for getting a job. Like many other things, employment is moving online, and very often, many job applications and resumes are accepted exclusively online. Many businesses set up their own online applications, or in the least, require you to submit your resume by email. To get with the times, make sure you set up an online professional profile with a website like LinkedIn.

Job interview

5. Entertainment

All-you-can-watch television, movies, and videos are at your fingertips when you get online. You can stream television for a low-monthly price with services like Netflix and Hulu, or watch unlimited videos from users for free on a website like YouTube. You can also find hours of endless entertainment on websites like Buzzfeed, or stream music with a service like Spotify.

6. Real-time updates

Staying up to date with what’s going on in the world is always important, and when you need real-time updates on almost anything, the Internet is your place to go. Whether it’s sports, traffic, or weather, improving your ability to get this information quickly can change your life. Apps like Wunderground can give you information about weather in any city in the world, and even notify you if it’s about to rain in your city!

7. Get information on a global scale

Being able to keep up with the news happening across the world, or accessing resources from libraries tens of thousands of miles away are just some of the perks you can enjoy with increased digital literacy. Like never before, information can be transmitted across the globe in a matter of milliseconds. Organizations can partner together to help provide you with better services, and you can see what’s happening with any major issue across the globe, as soon as it happens.

8. Close the digital divide

In short, the digital divide is the term used to differentiate between those who seem to know how to use technology intuitively, and make regular use of it, and those who struggle to understand it or avoid it. If you feel you may be in the latter group, improving digital literacy is your ticket to switch sides. You can learn to use digital technologies, and you can easily integrate it into your everyday life. All it requires is a little bit of effort, motivation, and ease of access.

If you want to learn more about causes of, the impact of, and solutions to the digital divide, check out our Guide to the Digital Divide.

9. Create an online presence

Many people caution against putting yourself out there online, claiming it can ruin your reputation. Though this may be true for those who don’t make smart decisions about how they present themselves, creating an online presence can greatly improve aspects of your life, especially when it comes to your personal and professional goals.

You can create your own website with absolutely no knowledge of coding using websites like Wix and Weebly, you can showcase your photography online with websites like Instagram or Flickr, and you can promote your business on sites like LinkedIn. Putting yourself or your business online can increase the number of people who are aware of what you do by thousands – even millions.

Computer surrounded by art supplies

10. Understand your digital footprint

You can think of your digital footprint as the trail you leave behind as you begin using websites and apps, and begin putting yourself out there online. Everything you post can be traced, and it never goes away. Understanding how the things you say or post online can impact the rest of your life is a key component of digital literacy; the more you use websites and apps, the better you understand the trail you’re leaving for others to see.

11. Learn faster and teach others

The more you start using digital technology, the easier it becomes to learn new things. Many websites and apps operate in very similar ways – especially when it comes to navigating or distributing information. The more you simply dive in and try using more devices, websites, and apps, the easier it will become to keep up with the new trends and things you need to learn.

Teaching others how to use devices and technology is also a great way to improve your own learning. When you’re forced to explain how something works or why it functions in a certain way, it often requires you to gain a deeper understanding of what you are explaining. By simply trying to learn and then trying to help others, you can go from being the person who needs to ask someone for help every time you turn your computer on to the person who everyone calls for help!

12. Become a digital citizen

Becoming a digital citizen simply means integrating technology into your life, and understanding how these technologies can be utilized for daily tasks, and how technology can improve your life. Similar to improving your digital literacy, a digital citizen can easily use technology and the Internet, and knows how to use it to make simple daily improvements, to disseminate content, and how to be creative.

13. Lifelong learning

One of the most important components to increasing your digital literacy is to commit to lifelong learning. In the digital and tech industry, things are constantly changing. There’s no such thing as learning it all, as each day there are new revolutionary devices, operating systems, websites, apps, gaming consoles, AI, and more being released, and with them, a whole lot more to learn.

Make sure you keep up with the trends by checking out TechBoomers, so you always know how to use the most popular websites and apps, and understand how they may impact your life. You can also check out other websites with information or online courses that can help you keep up with all the skills you need, including Lynda, Wikipedia, Coursera, Udemy, and Ted.com.

Girl using a computer

 

That’s our list of the 13 ways digital literacy can improve your life. We can’t emphasize enough the importance of digital literacy, and hopefully after reading, you have a better understanding of how important it is to develop your own digital literacy skills. We hope our list has given you the incentive to begin your journey from beginner to pro. These skills are quickly becoming essential in the modern world, so be sure to sharpen them up, and start reaping the benefits of well-developed digital literacy skills.

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