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Comunicar Journal 49: Media Education around the World: Curriculum and Citizenship (Vol. 24 - 2016)

Digital skills in the Z generation: Key questions for a curricular introduction in Primary School


Media convergence and massive usage of Internet-connected devices, distinguishing features of our current society, cause changes in the way that new generations learn and access knowledge. In addition, emerging new digital skills are necessary for the Z generation to face the challenges of a digital society. This quantitative study, with a sample of 678 Primary School students, aims to provide empirical evidence about the level of digital skills of students belonging to this generation. The results show that the acquisition of digital competences is not inherent to use, but require specific instruction. Otherwise, there is a danger of creating a digital divide, not due to frequency of use or access to connected devices but to lack of instruction on how to use them. The absence of significant variance in the overall level of digital competence among Primary School students of different grades reflects, to some extent, that this level is largely acquired by informal activities with ICTs in an informal context, rather than by developing competences in a school context that affords gradual and progressive skills acquisition. The results show the need to address digital competence in schools, focusing on the systematic development and enhancement of its component areas to move beyond the informal level and reach the academic level, thus facilitating digital natives’ access to future employment.