On the 31st of August and 1st of September, the European Project DigiLitEY (Digital Literacy and Multimodal Practices of Young Children) met to discuss progress and future tasks in researching young children’s digital literacy and how they use internet related technologies. Several preliminary results from a variety of studies have been presented:
A day in the digital lives of children 0-3
The aim of this study is to identify ways in which digital technologies permeate the everyday lives of children aged from birth to 3 in a number of EU countries. Research teams went into various households and observed for a period of about 6 hours how these young children use digital technologies. So far, the research shows that there is a structured use of technologies and the time spent on the devices as well as the content shown has been carefully planned. Parents do limit digital media use.
Young children, parents and digital technologies at home across Europe – one year later
Researcher Stephane Chaudron from the JRC presented a follow up to the study carried out in 2015 entitled “Young Children (0-8) and Digital Technology : A qualitative exploratory study across seven countries”. The main research questions were:
- What can children (especially very young) do with digital media (what are their skills)?
- What are children and parents’ perceptions?
- How do parents manage and mediate their children’s use?
Children below the age of 8 still watch lots of TV, which also serves as a joint activity for the family. The favorite device for children is the tablet due to its ease of use and entertaining value. When children use smartphones, it is usually the smartphone of their parents in “emergency” situations (when parents need their child to be quiet/safe outside of their home, for example, when waiting at the dentist). Game consoles are also used for family time and are more likely to be present if the father is/was a gamer. Finally, laptops are mostly seen by young children as boring, only used by adults for work.
While children understand very well the possibilities offered by the Internet or WiFi, they do not know how it works. Children learn quite quickly basic operational skills via trial and error, and more rarely advanced skills. Their perception of risks mirrors what their parents say: bad for the eyes, encountering silly/scary content, addiction, integrity of the device (scared of breaking the device), and much more rarely, the recognition of commercial risks or breach of privacy, with almost no child mentioning cyberbullying.
While most children use their devices for entertainment, seeking information (especially for school), communication (social networks and instant messaging), using devices for creative work is rare.
COFACE Families Europe will continue to follow the DigiLitEY project as an external expert and contribute to share the expertise and research results stemming from the project.