Digital literacy and skills are highly sought-after in today’s job market, says Umang Shah Co-Founder and CTO at SoftvanLabs

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Digital literacy and skills are highly sought-after in today's job market, says Umang Shah Co-Founder and CTO at SoftvanLabs
Digital literacy and skills are highly sought-after in today's job market, says Umang Shah Co-Founder and CTO at SoftvanLabs

Youth digital empowerment encourages the development of these skills, which are valuable in various aspects of life.

This is an exclusive interview conducted by the Editor Team of CIO news with Umang Shah Co-Founder and CTO at SoftvanLabs.

Definition: Digital empowerment encompasses the process of furnishing individuals with the skills, knowledge, and tools necessary to utilise digital technology effectively, ultimately enhancing their well-being. It constitutes a comprehensive strategy aimed at bolstering digital literacy, widening access to digital resources, expanding employment prospects, and facilitating social connections. Within the broader context of ensuring universal access to digital technology, often referred to as digital inclusion, digital empowerment plays a pivotal role in achieving this goal. The role of youth in digital empowerment is crucial, as they are both creators and facilitators of digital empowerment, and their population is huge in the current era.

With the increase in youth populations and pioneers in the digital era, it is very important to build sustainable growth for digital empowerment.

Promote responsible digital citizenship.

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  1. Digital literacy education:
  • Incorporate digital literacy into school curricula from an early age, teaching students how to use digital tools and platforms responsibly.
  • Provide workshops and training sessions for students, parents, and educators to enhance their digital literacy skills and understanding.

×     Reduce the digital divide and encourage all-age digital education, especially in rural areas.

  1. Cybersecurity Awareness:
  • Teach individuals about online security practices, including password management, recognising phishing attempts, and using secure connections.
  • Encourage the use of antivirus software and regular updates on devices.

×     Young people may not fully understand the implications of sharing personal information, which can make them targets for data.

  1. Critical thinking skills:
  • Promote critical thinking and media literacy to help individuals evaluate the credibility of online information and recognise misinformation and fake news.
  • Encourage questioning, fact-checking, and verifying sources before sharing or believing information.

×     Don’t spread fake news; validate the source.

  1. Online Etiquette and Respect:
  • Emphasise the importance of treating others with respect and kindness in online interactions, including social media and messaging platforms.
  • Address the issue of cyberbullying and emphasise the consequences of harmful online behaviour.

×     Don’t bully anyone.

  1. Privacy Awareness:
  • Teach individuals about the importance of protecting their personal information online and understanding privacy settings on social media platforms.
  • Encourage the use of strong, unique passwords and two-factor authentication.

×     Young people may not fully understand the implications of sharing personal information online, which can make them targets for data privacy violations and online scams.

  1. Digital Footprint Management:
  • Help individuals understand that their online actions leave a digital footprint and may have consequences in the future, including job prospects and college admissions.
  • Encourage responsible sharing and posting on social media.
  1. Ethical Use of Technology:
  • Discuss the ethical implications of technology use, including issues related to online piracy, copyright, and intellectual property.
  • Encourage responsible and ethical behaviour when creating and sharing content online.
  1. Empowerment and positive engagement:
  • Encourage young people to use digital technologies for positive purposes, such as activism, advocacy, and community involvement.
  • Highlight inspiring examples of digital citizenship and online campaigns that have brought about positive change.
  1. Parental Involvement:
  • Educate parents about their role in guiding their children’s digital use and providing a safe online environment.
  • Encourage open communication between parents and children about their online experiences.

×     Inappropriate Content: Easy access to the internet exposes young people to potentially harmful or age-inappropriate content, including violence, explicit material, or extremist ideologies.

  1. Safe reporting mechanisms:
  • Establish clear reporting mechanisms for individuals to report online harassment, cyberbullying, or other forms of harmful digital behaviour.
  • Ensure that these mechanisms are accessible and responsive.
  1. Policy and Regulation:
  • Advocate for and support policies and regulations that protect individuals’ rights and safety online.
  • Promote transparency and accountability among technology companies and platforms.
  1. Community and School Initiatives:
  • Create digital citizenship programmes and clubs within schools and communities to promote responsible digital behaviour.
  • Foster a sense of responsibility and accountability within the online community.

Benefits:

Youth digital empowerment refers to providing young people with the skills, knowledge, and access to digital technologies, and it offers numerous benefits for individuals, communities, and society as a whole. Here are some of the key benefits of youth digital empowerment:

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  1. Enhanced Education: Digital empowerment allows young people to access a wealth of educational resources online. They can engage in online courses, tutorials, and educational apps, which can supplement traditional classroom learning and help them acquire new skills and knowledge.
  2. Improved Employment Opportunities: Digital literacy and skills are highly sought-after in today’s job market. Young people with digital skills have a competitive edge when searching for employment. They can pursue careers in technology, digital marketing, design, programming, and various other fields.
  3. Entrepreneurship and Innovation: Empowered youth are more likely to become entrepreneurs and innovators. They can leverage digital tools to start their businesses, develop innovative solutions, and bring new ideas to market.
  4. Global Connectivity: The internet enables young people to connect with peers, mentors, and experts from around the world. This global connectivity fosters cultural exchange, collaboration, and the sharing of ideas and experiences.
  5. Civic Engagement: Digital empowerment can empower young people to engage in civic activities and advocate for social and political change. They can use social media and online platforms to raise awareness, mobilise communities, and participate in important discussions.
  6. Creative Expression: Digital tools and platforms provide creative outlets for young people. They can create and share art, music, videos, and writing, allowing them to express themselves and reach wider audiences.
  7. Problem-Solving Skills: Working with digital technologies often involves problem-solving and critical thinking. Youth digital empowerment encourages the development of these skills, which are valuable in various aspects of life.
  8. Access to Information: The internet is a vast repository of information. Empowered youth can use it to access knowledge, stay informed about current events, and conduct research for academic or personal purposes.
  9. Digital Inclusion: Digital empowerment initiatives can bridge the digital divide by providing access and training to underserved communities and marginalised youth, promoting inclusivity and equal opportunities.
  10. Resilience to Change: In a rapidly evolving digital world, young people who are digitally empowered are better equipped to adapt to technological advancements and changes in the job market.
  11. Lifelong Learning: Digital empowerment instills a mindset of lifelong learning. Young people are more likely to continue acquiring new skills and staying updated in their chosen fields.
  12. Community Building: Digital platforms enable young people to connect with like-minded individuals and build communities around shared interests, fostering a sense of belonging and support.

Overall, youth digital empowerment not only benefits young individuals but also contributes to the development and progress of societies. It empowers young people to be active participants in the digital age, helping them thrive in the modern world and make meaningful contributions to their communities and beyond.

Major Risks:

Mental Health Issues: Constant exposure to social media and online pressures can contribute to mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem among young people.

Educational Disparities: Not all young people have equal access to digital resources and opportunities. This can exacerbate existing educational disparities and create a digital divide between those with and without access.

Isolation: Excessive screen time and reliance on digital communication can lead to social isolation and hinder the development of interpersonal skills.

Security Risks: Lack of awareness about online security practices can expose young people to cyber threats, such as phishing attacks or hacking.

Empower Youth Innovation for the Elder Generation

Healthcare Assistance: AI-powered virtual assistants and healthcare applications can help seniors manage their health. They can remind seniors to take medications, monitor vital signs, and provide information about health conditions and symptoms.

Social Interaction: AI chatbots and virtual companions can alleviate loneliness and provide social interaction for seniors, especially those who live alone or in care facilities.

Voice-Activated Assistants: Voice-activated AI devices like Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant can help seniors control smart home devices, set reminders, and access information using voice commands, making daily tasks more accessible.

Fall Detection: AI systems can be integrated with sensors to detect falls or emergencies and automatically alert care-givers or medical services, improving the safety of elderly individuals.

Memory Enhancement: AI-driven apps and tools can aid in memory exercises, cognitive training, and reminiscence therapy for seniors with cognitive impairments such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Accessibility: AI can enhance the accessibility of digital content by providing text-to-speech and speech-to-text capabilities, making it easier for elderly individuals with visual or hearing impairments to interact with technology.

Summary:

Overall, youth digital empowerment not only benefits young individuals but also contributes to the development and progress of societies. It empowers young people to be active participants in the digital age, helping them thrive in the modern world and make meaningful contributions to their communities and beyond.

Also readProcess-based approach is needed for skill development planning, says Suresh Vijayaraghavan CTO at the Hindu

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