May 28, 2022

Article: ‘Digital fluency’: Towards Young People’s Critical Use of the Internet

The following article appears in Vol 6, No 2 (December 2012) issue of the Journal of Information Literacy.


‘Digital fluency’: Towards Young People’s Critical Use of the Internet


Carl Miller

Jamie Bartlett


The rise of the internet as the greatest source of information for people living in the UK today poses an acute challenge to the information literacy (IL) community. The amount and type of material available a mouse click away is both liberating and asphyxiating. There are more e-books, trustworthy journalism, niche expertise and accurate facts at our fingertips than ever before, but also mistakes, half-truths, propaganda and misinformation. This article presents research on how well young people are being equipped to meet the challenge of sorting good information from bad. It reviews current literature on the subject, and presents a new poll of over 500 teachers. With analysis supplemented by additional correspondence from librarians and other IL professionals, it argues that there is strong evidence that the web is fundamental to pupils’ learning and lives, but that many are not careful, discerning users of the internet. They are unable to find the information they are looking for, or they trust the first thing they see. This makes them vulnerable to the pitfalls of ignorance, falsehoods, cons and scams. The article proposes the appropriate response to be to embed ‘digital fluency’ – a tripartite concept constituting critical thinking, net savviness and diversity – at the heart of learning, in order to create a pedagogical framework fit for the information consumption habits of the digital age.

It should be noted that both authors recognise the importance of non-teaching information literacy professionals in these debates. They recognise that the poll’s focus on teachers was too narrow, and have endeavoured, subsequent to the poll, to consult more widely in their research.

Direct to Full Text (22 pages; PDF)

See Also: New Report from Pew Internet Looks at How Teens Do Research in the Digital World (November 2, 2012)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.