Child watching television

The Tech Literacy Imperative

Today’s children may look like savvy digital natives, but all too often their knowledge is only screen-deep. If young people are to be empowered citizens, not just beguiled consumers, they will need to understand how technology affects every aspect of contemporary life.

DAVOS – In many parts of the world, young children grow up surrounded by technology. At their fingertips – literally – lies a limitless amount of entertainment, gaming, learning, and social networking. Their world has always been connected. They learn to scroll before they can walk. And yet, as confident as they may be using technology, too many children have no idea how it all works. Nor do they fully appreciate how it underpins their lives – or how it will shape their futures.

I think of this as the tech literacy paradox. Today’s children may be great consumers of technology, but rarely are they truly tech literate. They may look like savvy digital natives, but their knowledge is only screen-deep. They are passive users, not active creators. And most of them have little real interest in finding out how the technology on which they depend actually functions.

This has important implications. Economies are undergoing radical shifts in terms of how they produce, distribute, and consume goods and services. Every aspect of life and work is changing. Greater tech literacy will be essential to ensure that the human implications of the ongoing Fourth Industrial Revolution are positive.

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