Educating 21st Century Children

Emotional Well-being in the Digital Age

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What is the nature of childhood today? On a number of measures, modern children’s lives have clearly improved thanks to better public safety and support for their physical and mental health. New technologies help children to learn, socialise and unwind, and older, better-educated parents are increasingly playing an active role in their children's education.

At the same time, we are more connected than ever before, and many children have access to tablets and smartphones before they learn to walk and talk. Twenty-first century children are more likely to be only children, increasingly pushed to do more by “helicopter parents” who hover over their children to protect them from potential harm. In addition to limitless online opportunities, the omnipresent nature of the digital world brings new risks, like cyber-bullying, that follow children from the schoolyard into their homes.

This report examines modern childhood, looking specifically at the intersection between emotional well-being and new technologies. It explores how parenting and friendships have changed in the digital age. It examines children as digital citizens, and how best to take advantage of online opportunities while minimising the risks. The volume ends with a look at how to foster digital literacy and resilience, highlighting the role of partnerships, policy and protection.



Children's time online and well-being outcomes

This paper reviews existing knowledge on how the time children spend using digital technology affects their well-being in order to understand when and why digital technology has a positive or negative influence on children. This is relevant, as the increase in children’s engagement with digital technology has led to concerns about whether this is healthy or harmful. The methodology used is an evidence-focused literature review, which includes studies of children aged 0-18. In addition to summarising existing evidence, the paper emphasises the methodological limitations that exist in this area of research. The literature is reviewed in light of these limitations to determine how much it can truly tell us about impacts on child well-being. The paper highlights that methodological limitations need to be more carefully considered in research, attributing the general lack of conclusive evidence to these limitations. The paper provides concrete recommendations to improve research in this area.


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