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Report: 80% of Parents Favor Prioritizing Digital Literacy

A report from CompTIA Spark found that parents are broadly optimistic about the direction of technology, but 80 percent of them believe students need more instruction focused on digital literacy and technology skills.

White octagons with red lettering on them — one says "digital literacy" and the surrounding ones have symbols like an open book and a laptop on them.
Parents of middle and high school students in the U.S. view funding for technology education and digital literacy programming as a top priority.

That was the finding of a recent report about parent perceptions of technology and careers produced by the IT nonprofit CompTIA, based on a survey of 1,108 parents across the country, 80 percent of whom said they believe students need more instruction focused on digital-literacy education to teach students critical career skills. The report was conducted by CompTIA Spark, an arm of CompTIA that focuses on social impact and offers free technology curriculum resources for middle school classrooms.

The report found that parents expressed a largely positive impression of technology, although they saw room for improvement: The report said two-thirds of surveyed parents thought technology was “moving in a positive direction,” compared to 56 percent of students who participated in a previous survey. This included a gender gap, wherein 70 percent of parents of high school-age boys were more optimistic that technology is moving in a positive direction, compared to 63 percent of parents of girls at the same age. Parents of students already considering careers in technology had a more positive perception of tech careers, compared to parents of students who were ahead of their classmates in tech proficiency but not considering tech careers.

Among 14 percent of parents with negative views about where technology is going, they were most worried about data privacy and control, cybersecurity risks, cyber bullying and how technology such as mobile apps and devices can be distractions to student learning.

“These responses show that parents see technology as a distraction to students, rather than a tool to help them learn,” Charles Eaton, CEO of CompTIA Spark, said in a public statement. “Our aim is to change these views by providing parents and students the resources they need to explore how technology can help them excel in their future careers.”

Among other findings, about 57 percent of all parents surveyed said schools have adequate career-planning resources, varying between 61 percent of high school parents and 45 percent of middle school parents. However, the report noted that parents overestimate their children’s interest in tech careers, adding that 27 percent said their children were considering jobs in technology compared to 22 percent of students self-reporting an interest in tech careers. The report said that overall, 32 percent of boys surveyed were considering careers in technology, compared to 21 percent of girls.