TORONTO - Digital technologies can provide a boost to students in the classroom but many youngsters lack the literacy skills needed to use the tools effectively to learn, according to a new report.

In "Young Canadians in a Wired World, Phase III: Teachers' Perspectives," the Media Awareness Network interviewed a small sample of elementary and high school teachers from across Canada recognized by their peers for successfully engaging students and creating excellent learning environments.

Educators surveyed said students loved working and playing on smartphones, iPods, iPads, computers and networked devices of all kinds. But the teachers agreed that access to the technologies hadn't made students better learners, and many lacked the skills to use online tools effectively.

The report also found school filters and policies banning or restricting the use of networked devices in the classroom take away opportunities to develop digital literacy skills, such as good judgment and responsible use.

"Technology can only enhance learning if students are taught to think critically about online content and to evaluate their own behaviour against a set of shared social values," states a portion of the report's executive summary.

"Digital literacy is not about technical proficiency, but about developing the critical thinking skills that are central to lifelong learning and citizenship."

While enthusiastic about tech use in the classroom, educators interviewed weren't without concerns.

The report found many teachers are cautious about technology because it can be disruptive and, in the case of networked devices, can distract students from attending to the tasks at hand.

"This study makes it clear that young Canadians need to learn digital literacy and digital citizenship in their schools, and that teachers need to be provided with the tools, support and learning opportunities to be able to teach them those skills," Media Awareness Network co-executive director Cathy Wing said in a release Wednesday.