Educating 21st Century Children

Emotional Well-being in the Digital Age

image of Educating 21st Century Children

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.



Fostering digital literacy and well-being

Digital inclusion and skills are required to participate in different facets of daily life in the 21st century. Children need adequate digital access and skills, and they need to be resilient online and offline. This chapter explores how education systems foster digital literacy and well-being. It shows how countries employ a number of strategies to foster digital access and inclusion, while ensuring they have adequate social and emotional skills to maintain well-being online and offline. Countries also grapple with the challenge of promoting the use of digital technologies while also ensuring well-being, with many developing and disseminating guidelines recommending limits to children’s exposure to screens. Equipping children with the right tools to be digital citizens requires education systems to ensure development of adequate digital, and social and emotional skills, while balancing the potential health effects associated with digital screen engagement.


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