Digital literacy is a set of skills that includes the ability to use digital technology to find information and to critically evaluate that information's authority and relevance. Effective communication with others through digital mediums is also an important component of digital literacy. This concept does not simply imply computer literacy but instead focuses on a wider range of knowledge. To be digitally literate is generally to be able to use the Internet as well as other types of electronic media in ways that will increase personal success, prosperity, and meaningful dialogue with others.
Technology tends to rapidly develop and allow increasing percentages of the world's population to gain digital access to a broad scope of information. This trend thus leads to an increase in the importance of critical thinking and decision-making skills when it comes to using digital technology. Visual literacy is closely related to this set of skills because it involves the ability to interpret the meanings of digital images, text, videos, and other types of presentations. Individuals with this core competency are also able to use quality information to design and publish their own well-researched findings online so that others are able to easily find and utilize that information.
Multimedia literacy is a component of digital literacy that is mainly concerned with the ability to access, process, and interact with various materials in digital rather than printed formats. The popularity of websites and blogs for news and other types of reading material leads to the need for multimedia literacy. Competent users are able to contribute meaningful additions to online written material that is no longer static or one-sided. This technology makes communication possible between people who are separated by geographic distances; it can have rewarding results when used with the critical thinking skills that digital literacy requires.
Both the classroom and the workplace have definite needs for students, teachers, and workers to be digitally literate. Technology makes both learning and communication quite different than in the past, and thoroughly understanding these implications is an important step toward digital literacy. Information is often not delivered in a linear fashion over the Internet as it is with printed materials; it is more often a set of linked ideas. The validity of each of these ideas generally should not be taken at face value but instead examined with a critical eye. Since anyone, anywhere can publish online content, the expertise and background of each author directly affects the accuracy of gathered information.