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.



Child protection online

Children are online more than ever before. While a multitude of opportunities arise from the digital environment, so too can the potential for increased exposure to risks such as exposure to harmful content, cyberbullying, age-inappropriate advertising and data misuse. These risks can affect children’s well-being and undermine their right to privacy. Online opportunities and risks are not mutually exclusive, and the right balance must be struck between promoting online use and protecting children from risks. OECD countries implement various legal frameworks and policies to protect children online, and to promote the notion that what is illegal offline should also be illegal online. In 2012, the OECD Council adopted a Recommendation for the Protection of Children Online. This chapter highlights the work to update this Recommendation and considers some of the policy and legislative avenues countries take to protect children online and to promote positive online use.


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