There is a need for digital skills as services, information, management and entertainment have largely become digital. Digital skills refer to the ability to use digital devices and services and to understand the underlying operational logic. Problem-solving skills and the ability to find information are also counted as digital skills. As almost everything is digital today, it is very important to ensure lifelong learning of digital skills and that everyone has equal access to digital services.
The topic is very current, that is why digital knowledge is also widely discussed in Finnish public administration. The Suomidigi service, maintained by the Digital and Population Information Agency, addresses the topic for example producing information and events on digital ideas and their development. One of the events is a roundtable discussion where about 50 experts in digital skills and competencies come together to discuss the goal of understanding what a digital learning path for people is throughout their lives.
Developing digital skills is a lifelong process
The latest roundtable discussion found that digital skills are not age-dependent. People have entered the digitalization at different stages of their lives, which largely explains the level and nature of a person’s digital skills.
The responsibility for learning digital skills is shared between individuals, communities, society and the organization. Learning digital skills, like everything else, is largely dependent on motivation. People should be encouraged at all ages to learn digital skills and use digital services.
Children and young people are called digi natives because they have lived all their lives in the midst of digitalization. However, not all children and young people are at the same level in their digital skills. Home, kindergartens and schools have a big impact on how well children adopt digital skills. Parents’ skills and available equipment affect how well digital skills children have when they go to school. Schools’ resources for promoting digital literacy can also vary in terms of equipment, skills and attitudes.
It is essential for children to learn how to use digital services safely. For young people, the emphasis is on better media literacy, security and privacy, so that the safe use of digital services can be achieved for them as well.
For adults, their own motivation, attitude and work tasks have a huge impact on the level of digital skills. Maintaining the ability and desire for continuous learning is therefore essential for maintaining and development of adult digital skills.
In working life there should be a culture in which it is completely okay to seek help with technological challenges. Learning new should also be supported so that it is perceived as inspiring and interesting and not as an additional burden. It is essential to emphasize the benefits of digital skills and lower the threshold for lifelong learning.
The digital skills of the elderly vary greatly. The biggest challenge is to find support for the development of digital skills where necessary. Society should therefore provide affordable and easily accessible support for the elderly.
Digital skills belong to everyone
In Finland, digital skills on average are good in terms of both technical know-how and operating in the digital environment. However, acquiring digital skills and belonging to the digital society is also challenging for many in Finland, e.g. for economic reasons.
It is therefore very important for the various levels of society to consider how to ensure adequate digital skills for everyone. Lack of digital skills leads to a deterioration in the quality of life and opportunities for action and, at worst, even exclusion from society.
Original blog in Finnish: https://tieturi.fi/blogi/digitaidot-ovat-uusi-kansalaistaito/