Digital literacy: rules of conduct online and in social networks

12:35 11.12.2020 • Anna Yershova , member of the editorial staff of International Affairs magazine

According to the Ministry of Digital Development and Mass Communications, digital literacy in Russia has increased by 48% since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, while the number of cybercrimes, as reported by the Interior Ministry, has risen by 59%. The participants in a press conference which took place in Moscow focused on the launch of an online digital literacy marathon, which is carried out with the support of the Russian Digital Development Ministry, the “Digital Economy” Non-Profit Organization, and top IT-companies.

Digital transformation has been included in the list of strategic goals of Russia’s national development agenda until the year 2030. According to Deputy Director for National Priorities Projects Irina Osadchaya, an early incorporation of digital technologies in the Russian economic and social spheres will create conditions for the development of high-tech business, will boost the country’s competitiveness on the global market and will improve the living standards. To this end, it is essential for the state to perfect information infrastructure and for the population to learn digital literacy rules. «In order to enjoy all the advantages of digital life, people should master the skills required. Technologies are changing our lives, so digital literacy today is as important as the ability to ties shoelaces», – I.Osadchaya says.

At present, digital literacy is perceived as a set of skills and abilities that enables an individual to effectively work, communicate and obtain information in the digital environment. According to the General Director of Digital Economy Yevgeny Kovnir, the level of digital literacy in Russia has increased dramatically over the past year. This is partially due to the coronavirus pandemic and the quarantine.  After most offices had to switch from offline to online work in the spring, Digital Economy, in tandem with the Ministry of Digital Development, launched a project called “All Online” – a digital resistance to COVID-19. More than 500 services were presented on this platform to promote comfortable life in the conditions of the quarantine. «Thanks to this internet resource, people were able to address their needs, from telemedicine, to education and the purchase of food. The level of digital literacy in Russia now differs considerably from the one at the beginning of the year, when we talked about gaps in digital knowledge», – Y.Kovnir explained.

In his words, given the rapidly progressing “online activity” there is a need to focus on measures against cyber fraud. According to the Interior Ministry, cybercrime rate has increased since the start of the pandemic. Those who are new to the digital world have become particularly affected by it. As cyber threats are expanding, the  most popular trick is when the fraudsters who introduce themselves as government agents send emails with proposals to visit an illegal website where they try to get the  victims to share their personal and banking details. Among the “new tricks” are emails on behalf of the World Health Organization requiring the recipients to pay for a coronavirus test or pay a fine for not wearing a mask. In most cases, cyber criminals’ domain names resemble their real ones, just as phone numbers, so it’s not a good idea to trust someone who says they are a bank employee – the best option is to call them yourselves. Also, it is essential to check all links for safety and refrain from passing your personal details to anyone.

During the online marathon on digital literacy which will be held in VKontakte, Instagram and Telegram, experts will inform the participants about the basics of “digital hygiene”, in the first place, how to make children knowledgeable about digital technologies, how to protect the youngsters against cyber threats and bullying, how to make purchases online, what to know about marketable digital specialists, what advantages digital government services have and how to communicate in social networks.

Videos and materials from the digital marathon will be available at  #digitalliteracy.