A new study has confirmed this trend.
With a greater access to the internet, children have much greater opportunities to learn and develop their digital skills as well as other skills via e-learning, participation via social media and other communication channels, creativity and innovation by creating content such as videos, pictures, or even apps!
At the same time, there are lots of risks associated with this increase in use of mobile devices. Among the most common risks identified in the report we find:
- Exposure to negative user generated content, 31% of 11 to 16 year-olds (such as posts, comments, pictures or videos on social networks such as facebook or online sharing platforms such as youtube);
- Communicating online with someone the child has not met face to face before, 30% of 11 to 16 year-olds;
- Seeing sexual images off- and online, 29% of 11 to 16 year-olds;
- 27% of children aged 9-16 report being bullied on- or offline. The number of children who reported any form of cyberbullying on the internet or through mobile phones is 14%.
For parents, this poses digital parenting challenges such as learning to get familiar with new operating systems (such as iOS, Android and Windows Phone), new features (NFC, GPS), along with understanding the implications of being constantly connected with the ability to share and access content world wide 24/7.
Industry also has a role to play, making sure that parents have access to the right tools and features to support their children (some mobile operating systems still have poor parental control tool integration) but also designing their products to be more “child friendly”.
Other crosscutting issues raised with these developments are:
- Ensuring that children and teenagers have a balanced lifestyle with enough time devoted to sports, studying, social relationships;
- Exposure of children and teenagers to more advertising or commercial messages in general, detrimental to the development of their critical thinking skills and shaping their “consumer habits” early.
We have been following these developments closely and will continue to represent the interests of families in the digital world.