Should democracies embrace or fear social media and new online platforms?  That’s the question the Select Committee on Democracy and Digital Technologies has been considering. Led by Lord Puttnam it called for evidence on the impact on political campaigning, the electoral process, our understanding of the truth and public’s wider engagement with politics and political debate.

On the question of the role education should play in creating a digitally literate democracy, The Digital Life Skills Company drew on its experience delivering Digital Information Literacy workshops to hundreds of children and young people – equipping them with skills needed to get reliable information from the internet, and avoid being misled.

“Many teachers we work with feel outdated and poorly-supported to teach this complex and constantly evolving subject. Teachers regularly tell us they ban or restrict access to the internet and recommend that young people refer instead to reference books for school work. This approach is failing children and young people who inevitably access information – be it for schoolwork, health, news or celebrity gossip – via digital sources.”

“The internet influences people’s beliefs, world views, emotional responses and how we behave. With the proliferation of inaccurate, misleading hateful and harmful content online, it is difficult to think of a time when the need to develop the public’s digital information literacy – the ability to think critically and make balanced judgements about the digital information we use – was more urgent.  Without it we can’t have an informed electorate.”

The Digital Life Skills Company is calling for Digital Information Literacy to be embedded in schools from an early age – and across the curriculum. These skills are no longer a ‘nice to have’, they are vital skills for living, learning , and working in the digital age.

Read full written evidence from The Digital Life Skills Company here.

(Following the calling of a General Election, Parliament was dissolved and The House of Lords Committee ceases to exist unless and until it is reappointed by the new Government in December 2019. Follow developments here.)

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Our co-founder, Shelley Metcalfe spoke recently at TEDx Macclesfield about the cost of careless clicks, how we are all part of the problem and what we can do about it.  Watch the talk here.

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