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.


Ensuring child well-being in a digital world: The pending agenda

Empowering an active and ethical (digital) generation is a key policy goal for education ministries across the OECD. As the culmination of this volume, this chapter highlights a number of transversal themes that have emerged through work with countries. Gaps in our knowledge and areas for improvement are identified that should be filled to help countries in educating 21st century children and the opportunities and challenges they face in the modern world. The topic of well-being in the digital age is continuously evolving, and reports such as this can become quickly outdated. The work for education systems around the world is to try to stay ahead of, or at least on top of, the curve. Policy makers, educators and researchers are encouraged to consolidate their efforts and resources to continue to provide sound evidence for future decision‑making on the emotional well-being of students in a digital world.


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