In the last few decades the Internet has become a technological and a social phenomenon. It has become a “fact of life, a way of being in the world, a producer of social subjects that, find it unremarkable, so unremarkable that it seems ‘everybody uses it.’” (Lewis & Fabos. 2005:470) It has allowed new social access, an instant connection to friends through a whole host of digital literacy’s. These new literacy’s have inevitably influenced the English Language; but it does not currently have a concrete place in the national curriculum. Yes, Information Communication Technology (ICT) is becoming a core subject in the new curriculum. But what about the communicative aspect of the Internet.
Several years ago, MSN had a huge popularity with teenagers. It had a huge impact of the linguistics aspects of the English Language. Lewis and Fabos (2005) research discovered that “in general, young people favoured IM over all other kinds of communication.” It provided an excitement of staying on top of multiple conversations; it was convenient because most people were constantly online and available. It also assuaged social relationships; making all potential threatening exchanges, such as face-to-face or via telephone, less problematic. Those interviewed in Lewis and Fabos’ study still occasionally used electronic mail (email) for telling longer stories, yet still preferred instant messaging over chat rooms, since “communicating with strangers was not nearly as engaging as communicating with one’s peers” (Lewis & Fabos. 2005:482)
Social networking has grown and became an integral part of commuter-mediated communication. Since the launch of ‘Myspace’ in 2003, Facebook in 2004 and Bebo in 2005, the Office for Communication (OFCOM) has found that “almost half (48%) of children aged 8-17 who use the internet have set up their own profile on a social networking site.” (OFCOM, 2008) Even though these sites restrict children aged thirteen or fourteen, OFCOM have found that “27% of 8-11 year olds who are aware of social networking sites say that they have a profile on a site.” (OFCOM 2008) Social networking “is now a mainstream form of communication, offering new ways for children to communicate and socialise.” (Dowdall. 2009:91) They, offer children the ability to create an online presence
In all of the above communication methods, children are involved in, and they are self motivated to learn the new communication methods.
In modern journalism courses, they have begun to teach how to write for an online audience. Why isn’t this integral part of what we now teach children? Blogs are emerging from teachers and students alike, from those with the technological know how, but it’s not all schools and not all children. As communicating online, whether through email, instant messaging or from social networking, is becoming an integral part of people’s lifestyle and social identity.
Should we introduce digital literacy into the classroom?
If yes, how can we introduce digital literacy in the classroom?
As part of my dissertation, I want to investigate these new literacies, and how do children communication differently on the world wide web.
(aspects taken from ‘English and Communication Technology’ linguistic assignment)
Lewis, C & Fabos, B (2005) ‘Instant Messaging, Literacies and Social Identities’ in Reading Research Quarterly. Vol. 40 (4), pp470-501
OFCOM (2008) ‘Social Networking: A Quantitative and Qualitative research Report into Attitudes, Behaviour and Use’. OFCOM. Available at http://www.OFCOM.org.uk/advice/media_literacy/medlitpub/medlitpubrss/socialnetworking/report/pdf [Accessed 11th February 2011]
Dowdall, C. (2009) ‘Impressions, improvisations and compositions: reframing children’s text production in social networking sites’ in Literacy. Vol. 43 (2), pp 91-99