I am an online consumer.
Online consumerism could be defined as the actions of providing or acquiring goods and services in the digital world. I have never really considered myself much of an online shopper, but I have come to rely on the Internet for many types of transactions in which I provide or acquire any number of things: paying bills, ordering take-out, purchasing event tickets, downloading music…
While I may be a consumer in the online world, my brain was in overload this week, as I realized how much I really don’t know about online consumerism.
I have no experience or (even full understanding) of virtual online communities such as Second Life, where participants create virtual identities and purchase virtual goods. Until this week, my understanding of the term e-inclusion would not have included knowledge of how companies such as HP seek to “…increase consumption of ICT among the worlds poor and the institutions serving them.” (Schwittay, 2012, p.53). Nor had I really ever stopped to consider how organizations that use social media to connect with customers need employees that can manage and maintain the company’s image in these online environments. I have never even heard of Groupon or Living Social, websites that sites that provide daily deals for to consumers of local businesses. Perhaps most embarrassingly, I did not know that the ‘s’ in ‘https’ stood for secure. How is it that I never learned such an important component to online consumerism?
Without any of this knowledge, I have been able to engage successfully as a digital consumer. Yet my learning experiences with this week have resonated with me the importance of providing students with the knowledge and tools to become savvy online consumers and contributors to the digital world. We cannot assume that participation alone will guarantee sufficient knowledge. We must teach them how to communicate and navigate safely and successfully in a variety of digital consumer contexts.