The National Union of Campus Journalists (NUCJ) held a TweetChat on how digital literacy can curtail the spread of coronavirus on Saturday the 2nd of May 2020.
The webinar, which took place on the Union’s official Twitter handle, was facilitated by the Co-ordinator of African Centre for Media and Information Literacy, Mr Chido Onumah.
While delivering the training, Mr Onumah explained how digital tools have contributed immensely to the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic.
He defined digital literacy as “the ability to use information and communications technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate, requiring both cognitive and technical skills” referencing the American Library Association’s digital-literacy task force.
Speaking on Nigeria’s progress in terms of digital literacy, he explained that the country is lagging behind in the digital world.
“I think the country still has a long way to go in the formal sense. While it is true that we have millions of our compatriots who are “tuned in” to the digital world, the country lacks the infrastructure. Digital literacy is one component of being a digital citizen.
“I’m talking about access to computers & other digital devices. I am talking about internet connectivity. I am talking about funding for school and after-school media & digital literacy programs. I’m talking about making media & dig literacy a part of the curriculum,” he said.
When asked on how digital literacy can reduce the spread of misinformation and disinformation, he noted that it will do this if the country starts from scratch.
“Digital literacy may not be a silver bullet, but it can do a lot. We live in a very complicated world that keeps changing, but research has shown that if we start early (early as KG) with kids, we can deal will the biases. Of course, a lot depends on d nature of each society,” he responded.
On how the digital literacy can help in curtailing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, he explained that technological tools have become an indispensable preclude to curtail the spread of the virus as it makes the social distancing policies possible.
“Technological tools have become one of our best defences against loneliness and isolation during the coronavirus pandemic. So, it is important we stay well informed about how best to navigate the internet in this challenging and uncertain times. Dependence on digital media technologies has increased significantly as people try to observe social distancing protocols to contain the spread of COVID-19,” he explained.
He further emphasised that social distancing is a sacrifice that every citizen must make to curtail the spread of the virus, saying: “Looking at the devastation of the COVID-19 infection, maintaining physical social distance and staying at home, while difficult, is a necessary sacrifice we have to make to curtail the spread of the virus.”
He further reiterated that social media is the platform where people get information on COVID-19 and also a platform that makes social distancing feasible, explaining that: “The internet is now the place where many of us get up-to-the-minute news and information, access resources and connect with family, friends, and colleagues. In observing these protocols, people have no choice than to rely on digital media technologies to perform daily functions. Herein lies the importance of digital literacy.”
He further explained that digital media has become an alternative which people use to connect and communicate during this period, stating: “Digital Literacy is important as digital media has become the only connection between employers and their staff, students and their teachers, religious leaders and their followers, and in some cases between parents and their children.”
He, however, cautioned the users of social media to be wary of the news which they consume, produce or share to reduce the tension and anxiety during this pandemic.
“The current situation has intensified the frequent use of already popular social media platforms. All social media users must, therefore, become critical of the content they consume & must be responsible for what they produce (including share) this is part of digital literacy,” he concluded.
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