L. Parijkova

University of Library studies and Information Technologies (BULGARIA)
Present-day children live in a highly technological environment and the constantly developing digital technologies call for a responsible attitude and behavior of the adults regarding their upbringing and education. Parents, teachers and researchers have to combine their efforts in view of revealing the potential of digital technologies for child education. On the other hand, a growing number of studies point out the decreasing interest in books and reading. Education at a Glance, a report published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) with reference to the teaching and learning objectives of Europe 2020, shows that on a scale of 1 to 5 Bulgarian students have a literacy level of only 2. One of the reasons for this illiteracy is that young people read increasingly less these days. The traditional love for books of the Bulgarians is on the decline. A survey since 2011 shows that 58% of the 250 respondents she interviewed think that Bulgarians are book-lovers, while 39% said the opposite, that this is a myth. An international survey carried out in 2009 by the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) of the OECD showed that Bulgarian students cannot comprehend or assess the meaning of the presented information well. They read mainly magazines and 21% consider reading “a waste of time” (OECD, PISA: 2009). When presenting its plan to deal with illiteracy in the EU by 2020, the EU reported that 41% of students in Bulgaria are functionally or to a different degree illiterate. Nearly every second student in Bulgaria has problems reading and comprehending a text in their mother tongue.

The problem of digital literacy and reading literacy has not been studied enough in Bulgaria. What is more, some major documents regarding education do not include terms such as “digital literacy” or “digital competence” (“digital competence” of students is indeed mentioned once in the Pre-School and School Education Act, published in the State Gazette, No. 79/13.10.2015, effective from 01.08.2016, but it is not defined). Therefore, the study of digital competence and its relation to reading by children can contribute to acquiring sustainable knowledge that can be used in teachers’ guidebooks, educational policies and recommendations for parents and pedagogues. At present, all across Europe there are insufficient research data about the degree, scope and opportunities of using the new multimedia devices at an early childhood age in the family, in the community and at school, as well as about the extent to which reading literacy affects digital literacy and vice versa. According to Richard Lanham, literacy has extended its semantic reach from meaning “the ability to read and write” to now meaning “the ability to understand information however presented”. It is necessary to study the new trends so that pedagogues are given adequate ground for their work with the “digital children”. According to the Digital Kids Foundation, today’s children are digital because they do not know the pre-digital technology world. The project "Digital Competencies and Media Education at Pre-school and Primary School Age" and its Working Package 3 specifically has tasks to find the interconnection between reading and digital literacy of children up to 11 years of age by means of observations, interviews and case studies. This report will show some theoretical findings and preliminary studies.