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.



The social context of adolescent relationships

Adolescence is a critical period for development. Myriad changes have profound and long-lasting implications for youths’ trajectories of economic security, health and well-being in later life. Social connection during adolescence plays a foundational role in youths’ successful navigation of challenges at the individual, communal and societal level. This chapter describes the importance of social connection, and the way in which global trends affect relationship behaviour and maintenance during adolescence. It discusses how 21st century social changes in the distal context – climate change, forced displacement, individualisation and new technologies – affect adolescent development, relationships and mental health. Adolescents not only directly experience the outcome of social changes, they will also be the key driver for social change, for better and for worse. This chapter aims to stimulate future research on this important area in order to better understand the effects of today’s challenges for social connection in adolescence and prepare youth for the challenges yet to come.


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