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.



Trends in children’s emotional well-being

Emotional well-being is vital for our health and everyday life. A large body of research documents the long-term benefits of developing social and emotional skills and a positive mental health state during childhood and adolescence. These are crucial developmental periods and research demonstrates that they can be important predictors of emotional well-being later in life since many adult mental health disorders originate during this period. This chapter will provide an overview of some of the long-term trends and challenges in children's emotional well-being, including internalising (e.g. anxiety and depression) and externalising behaviours (e.g. bullying and cyberbullying). It will also look specifically at policy priorities and challenges faced by OECD countries and systems.


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