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.


Digital parenting and the datafied child

Many parents of today are feeling increasingly concerned not only for the well-being and safety of their children, but also for their own abilities to take up the role of a “good” and “responsible” parent. Empirical research evidence is used in the chapter to illustrate how the data religion cultivated by tech industry, popular press, marketing discourses and general societal expectations of a “responsible parent” have created a norm for plugged‑in parenting resulting in intimate dataveillance of children, both in online and offline contexts. Various digital parenting tools – from pregnancy apps and baby monitors to parental controls and tracking devices – and practices – such as sharenting – are used in the chapter to illustrate how the issues related to the digital rights and privacy of the child are almost entirely discarded against the overprotective and technologically moderated parenting stance leading to both commodification as well as datafication of childhood.


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