THUMB TRIBES: CHILDREN READING DIGITALLY
University of Johannesburg (SOUTH AFRICA)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN15 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Conference name: 7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2015
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:The current concept of digital literacy was introduced by Paul Gilster (1997). As emphasized by Gilster, digital literacy is much more than mastering technical skills (Gilster, 1997). Digital literacies may be viewed within the scholarship of New Literacy Studies (NLS), in which literacy is considered a social practice rather than a universal skill. This definition relies on Brian Street’s definition of literacy as “a shorthand for the social practices and conceptions of reading and writing” (Street 1984). Within the framework of NLS it is assumed that literacy is a critical social practice that is constructed in everyday interactions across local contexts.
Electronic or digital media, such as the internet, require a higher level of literacy than traditional textual literacy (Machet, 2002). Increasingly children and adolescents are exposed to digital input, and more reading is conducted online than paper-based text. There is also a marked change in today’s learners, we are teaching children for jobs that do not yet exist. In Prensky’s terms they are digital natives, who think and process information differently. Vosloo actually refers to young people as “generation text” and the “thumb tribe”.
This study examines a group of children by following their reading practices. The case study asks What are their digital literacy reading practices? What are they reading? How are they reading? And what are the possible implications for their careers as readers?
Keywords: Digital literacy, children, reading.