Conference on new Technologies and the impact on children
On the 9th of October, the UDAF of
"Haut-Rhine" in France organised a conference around the issues of
internet, new technologies and the impact on children.
During the day, a variety of themes were
touched upon: latest statistics on the usage of new technologies by
children, the benefits and dangers of video games, the ill-effect
advertising online has on children, how to use parental control tools
wisely and finally, more generally, how can parents adapt to the
"digital world" and develop digital parenting skills.
Some highlights from the conference:
- Children are using new technologies and the internet at an ever younger age
following the increased usage of mobile phones and especially tablets
along with longer hours spent on the internet on private/personal
- Video games can present many benefits for e-learning and developing specific skills
notably via "serious games". At the same time, video games also carry
the potential for addictive/excessive use and exposure to or even
(virtual) involvement in violence, sex, drugs, alcohol... While research
does not suggest that violent video games are directly responsible for
violent behaviour, known phenomena such as a decreased sensibility
towards violence via its trivialization can still have negative
consequences. Parents are therefore advised to watch closely the time
spent playing games (as compared to other activities) and be sure to
follow the age restriction recommendations.
- Children are more and more exposed to advertising online
be it via social networks, online games, and applications on the mobile
phone or "traditional" advertising on websites. Innovation is moving
fast in the area of digital marketing and new strategies aim at ensuring
the "active" involvement of children by interacting with the advertiser
(for instance via "like" incentives on Facebook). Parents need to talk
to their children about advertising, its effects on behaviour and
develop the critical thinking skills of their kids. For more information
on this see our Nutri-Medias project page
- Parental control tools can be useful but cannot be sufficient in order to ensure children enjoy a positive experience online
Parental control tools should rather be used to create opportunities
for discussion with your children about excessive use of new
technologies, age restrictions and unsuitable or harmful content,
sexuality and sexual education and critical thinking. The settings of
parental control tools need to be regularly updated to follow the
development and mastery of digital skills by the child. Too restrictive
tools may hinder the acquisition of key digital skills and the
development of related skills such as resilience or responsible
COFACE’s activities in the field of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) focus on:
- Bridging the digital divide. All families must be in a position to reap the benefit new information technologies, without facing new risks of social exclusion.
- Promoting the role of new information technologies as enabler for more social inclusion, including through the development of online social services for families.
- Preventing risks faced by family members, and in particular children, when using new information technologies.
e-Inclusion of Families
Families are primarily concerned by the digital divide. For most Europeans the family household is the place where they acquire their Internet skills in the daily life. As consumers, families are also a driving force in the growth of the information society. However families with low income are less connected to the Internet than the average. For these families who do not use a computer and the Internet, this means lagging behind the rest of the society when it comes to supporting their children in their education, to communicating, and to benefiting from a professional, social and cultural tool.
In battling the cross-generational exclusion in general, the family approach in digital divide is essential. Children from vulnerable families are also facing more risks on the Internet as a consequence of their parents’ lack of digital competences.
Generally speaking, families need to be empowered with IT skills to better ensure their children safety online; otherwise some parents are tempted to discard Internet access at home, which leads to exclusion. At the same time, vulnerable families and children (including single parents, large families and violent families) are a target group for inclusion through ICT policies, such as inclusive eGovernment.
Families are therefore key stakeholders for the expansion of an inclusive information society. The family dimension is crucial both in policies promoting the use of ICT to overcome exclusion and in policies aiming at reducing gaps in ICT usage.
Published on 13 Sep 2011
Updated on 05 Nov 2013