So thats our conclusion after the umpteenth session in a school with students and teachers. When we try to explain the same set of concepts under the title "Digital Citizenship" the audience stares at us blankly. But when we use the title "Internet Maturity" we can see (and hear) that they are present in the same room with me.
So for those whom we are not going to talk to in-person, here is a 21st century knowledge byte...
What is "Internet Maturity"?
Internet Maturity is a stage of development of a person's understanding of the Internet (World Wide Web) and issues related to it’s usage. An Internet mature person can also be called a mature Digital Citizen. There are various aspects of the modern day Internet which a mature user must understand. Such as:
- Understanding the modern form of Internet i.e. the ‘Web 2.0’. ‘User Generated Content’ forms the biggest chunk of information available on the Internet. Anybody can create and share digital content (text, images, presentations, videos etc) and share it on the Internet. Its first aspect is that every computer-literate person is empowered to create and share information with the world. It’s another aspect is that anybody (expert or non-expert) can publish content on any topic with any kind of intention. It is important that the consumer of the content does his or her due diligence before accepting the content at its face value.
- Understanding that Networking and collaboration forms a significant portion of online activities by users. For example Social networking, professional networking, private or closed group collaboration (Intranets on Internet) etc. Internet has become the de-facto platform for networking and collaboration around the world. Online collaboration skills are now an important part of communication skills in the 21st century.
- Understanding that every online activity (content sharing or online networking) by a user attaches a reputation to his or her online identity. This is known as online reputation. The importance given to online reputation is increasing day by day, especially in case of hiring new employees and forming new personal relationships.
- Understanding that various services are now offered online – shopping, banking, education, governance, computing (cloud computing, SaaS, PaaS). These online services have set new standards for efficiency and productivity of an individual in the 21st century.
- Understanding that Internet is a major source of threats, dangers and risks. Every online activity has safety risks associated with it. Awareness of online safety techniques is an important life skill for Internet users.
Internet Maturity is an extremely important life skill for 21st century children and youth. Thats because they get exposed to the virtual world of Internet much before they see the larger real world.