Digital Smarts - Tweens Not the Digital Natives They Would Seem

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A survey of 1,200 children examines how upper elementary students use digital spaces for communicating, reading and writing. The study, published in the International Literacy Association’s “Reading Research Quarterly”, reveals that tweens have more difficulty using the internet for research than for reading books.  Data also shows that students are online more at school than at home, and use the internet for different tasks at home than in the classroom. The research also suggests that there is a big difference in knowing how to use a digital device and using it to locate, understand, and effectively communicate information to others.

The study advises parents that even though they may not consider themselves tech savvy, they are still likely more skilled than their tweens at reading, problem-solving, and making sense of information online, so their support is still very valuable. “With print-based reading we provide children with plenty of opportunities to read appropriate texts independently, but we also help them read increasingly difficult books so that they can continue to develop their skills,” one of the researchers wrote. The process is the same for online reading and writing, and parents should help kids learn to use all the multiple modes of information (such as color, image, video, hyperlinks, and text) that are encountered in digital spaces.