Childrens' Digital Literacies: A Contested Space
Charles Sturt University
Faculty of Education and Arts
School of Communication and Arts/Centre for Research in Entertainment, Arts, Technology, Education and Communications
Children’s digital literacies are not solely a set of technical skills. These competencies are imbricated within broader social, emotional and cultural literacies that reflect age, gender and the positioning of the parties involved. The complexity of the interplay of these factors is particularly evident when hot-button topics are considered in the high stakes period of adolescence, when children are negotiating and claiming revised boundaries of personal autonomy; and in very early childhood, when children have comparatively little agency and their activities and skills are perceived as directly reflecting the will and priorities of parents. For these reasons, children’s digital literacies are contested spaces: first, between the child and its parents; and secondly, between the child and its parents, and the broader society. Further, the concept of literacy is not neutral: it is used as a social judgement. Literacies are an expected aspect of an individual’s social engagement. Where literacy is constructed as missing, or absent, this is seen as a lack, and as a reason for judging the individual and/or their parents. The foregoing arguments are made in the body of the paper using both qualitative evidence arising from detailed ethnographies, and also survey-based research.