Towards civic media? Teaching digital natives how to use web 2.0 tools

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As discussions about the digital divide have been slowly fading into the background (in spite of the persistent inequalities in Internet adoption both between and within countries), the new focus has been shifting on the inequalities in the way the Internet is used by drawing attention to the media skills (or media literacy) which are necessary for citizens to become meaningfully involved online (and thus offline).

As web 2.0 technologies are developing and maturing it is not sufficient anymore to merely observe digital natives (those who are born with the new digital technology and have most successfully integrated it into their everyday lives) and how they are creating online content but it becomes necessary to engage them in meaningful ways so that the incredible potential of Web 2.0 does not remain confined to uploading funny pictures of your cat.

Initiatives such as the one by Prof. Alexandra Juhasz of Pitzer College, CA, “Learning from YouTube” show how teaching digital natives how to use tools such as YouTube will help the development of media skills which should contribute not only to better quality content online but also to more meaningful uses of these online tools so that new media can move from just being entertainment to being also truly civic media.