Digital Literacy Skills Guide

Most individuals on this planet want to be literate so they can live a good life. Modern parents particularly feel it’s very important to give a globally relevant skill-based education to their children. What then encompasses literacy and skills in the 21st century?

Commonly, anybody who knows how to read and write is considered literate. Apart from these, there are new literacies that are a result of new online tools and technologies of the 21st century. In this article, we will look at literacy skills in the context of the current times.

Which are the Literacy skills in the 21st century 

Literacy skills are used throughout the academic years and also as a lifelong learner. In academics, these skills are systematically blended into the teaching-learning process.

For the sake of clarity and distinction, researchers and educationists have classified three types of 21st-century literacy skills. 

  1. Information literacy
  2. Media literacy
  3. Technology literacy
literacy skills in 21st century
21st century information and digital literacy skills

Apart from these, there are other new literacies like,

  • health literacy,
  • financial literacy,
  • political literacy,
  • social literacy,

and others.

We will look only at the three literacies listed above.

1. Information Literacy

Everybody needs information about topics throughout life. How do you find information? You search online, or in textbooks, reference books, non-fiction books, magazines, or journals, right? 

Considering the abundance of information resources online and offline, do you feel confused about which is the right resource?

Information literacy is the ability or skill that equips you to think critically to identify the right information resources and use them ethically. This involves the following skills.

  • locating or knowing how and where to find resources
  • assessing the authenticity and reliability of the resource
  • understanding the purpose of creating the resource
  • knowing how to use the resources
  • deciding the scope of information requirement
  • knowledge of how research and publishing are done
  • how to use information ethically
  • identifying previous knowledge
  • synthesizing the collected information
  • creating new perspective using the knowledge base

Also read: Do People Read Anymore?

2. Media Literacy

In simple words, media literacy is the ability to recognise media messages and their influence on our thoughts. It also entails discriminating between fact, fiction, and personal opinion. People and companies who work in the media sector use a variety of techniques to convey their messages. These elements can trigger the desired response from the target audience, prompting them to take the intended action. 

authors purpose media literacy
Media literacy – Author’s purpose

Media literacy equips the audience to identify these elements and the purpose of the creator. The author or media creator’s purpose could be to persuade, inform or entertain the audience. Identifying the purpose help in thinking critically about how to process them.

Advertisement campaigns impact the consumer audience at the subconscious level and provoke us to form opinions and take decisions. Media literacy integrated into the academic curriculum helps young learners to think critically about any media messages they consume. These skills are essential for the mindful and responsible consumption of media. 

3. Technology Literacy

Just being able to read, write and solve math is not enough in this digital world. All age groups, especially young learners need to understand and increasingly use technology in daily life for a variety of purposes. Being technologically literate means using digital technology and understanding its various forms. Digital technology is used for the following.

  • communication,
  • organising,
  • computing,
  • sending and receiving documents,
  • getting access to current trends,
  • surveys,
  • reports,
  • statistics,
  • data,

and much more.

Using digital technology necessitates awareness of the following.

  • Ethical use of digital technology
  • Side-effects of technology overuse
  • Digital etiquettes
  • Cyber security.

This includes knowing how to communicate responsibly using digital tools. Simple tasks like creating online to-do list reminders, finding and learning courses online, and searching for home decor ideas on online platforms are a few basic forms of technology literacy.

Technology literacy also involves creating content responsibly and sharing it with caution. Read the Be Internet Awesome guidelines from Google

Also read: Life Skills in the 21st century

Examples of Literacy Skills in the 21st Century:

Teaching students literacy skills help develop strategies for uncovering accurate, relevant, and quality information. 

  • identify fake, real, and opinions in media,
  • awareness of diverse information resources,
  • validate the trustworthiness and reliability of information sources,
  • know information resources,
  • follow digital ethics and norms,
  • awareness of cyberbullying and act responsibly,
  • stay safe in the cyber world,
  • understand the process of research and publishing,
  • think critically about information, media and technology,
  • understand how media influences feelings and ideas,
  • use technology for problem-solving,
  • synthesise information to create new insights,
  • awareness of the risks and benefits of digital platforms,
  • know the possibilities and limitations of digital tools,
  • comfortably communicate and share ideas/work using online platforms,
  • know to create content on digital platforms and social media.

How will 21st-Century Literacy Skills Benefit Young Learners?

Whenever conducting online research, young people will think critically about how they search and what they find online. 

Young learners get in the habit of checking out an author’s credibility or bias. They learn to question whether a photo is digitally modified. Learners will verify fake news by cross-referencing sources, so they can avoid being misinformed.

Also read: What are fiction and non-fiction?

Media literacy entails assisting students in becoming competent, critical, and literate in all types of media. With these skills, they can control rather than be controlled by the perception of everything they see or hear. To become media literate, you must learn to ask the appropriate questions. For instance, what you are seeing, reading, or listening to, rather than remember information or figures about the media. Media literacy empowers with the ability to make decisions for oneself. Technology literacy has to do with the efforts to identify, use, and produce information in a helpful and useful manner on the internet.


The CBSE board recommends 21st-century skills. An E-booklet on 21st century skills is available on the CBSE website. Why? Because new literacy skills have grown even more relevant in a global job market that changes quickly. This is because any industry might change at any time. New ideas and approaches are routinely disrupting industries. Those industries that haven’t been disrupted, on the other hand, aren’t immune. They haven’t yet been disrupted.

With this in perspective, the world has gone through a period in which nothing is certain. As a result, people must learn to manage the change that will inevitably occur in their life. They must, at the least, learn how to respond to change.

They’ll be left behind if they don’t. All of these lead to a single point of focus. The ability of a person to adapt to changes, impact professional and all-around growth and well-being. So the meaning of literacy in the 21st century is beyond just being able to read and write. 


CBSE Roadmap to 21st-century skills (part 2).

Reading Rockets article on New Literacies.

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