Thursday, June 18, 2015

The positives and negatives of new digital opportunities

I'm now in week 2 of the Open University course Childhood in the Digital Age. This week we are looking at the positives and negatives of children using social media, online gaming and virtual worlds. Children thrive on forming connections with other people in their immediate social environments, and they learn to communicate and interact successfully using email, social networks, texts and tweets.  In the case of my own family, technology allowed my children to build relationships with their grandparents who were living in another country, as well as keep in touch with their friends when they moved on to other countries too.  Social networks allow children not only to connect to people within their own circle of face-to-face friends, but also to form connections with a much wider group of individuals all over the world.

On the other hand, it has also been pointed out that in expanding their social community, children are exposed to a wider range of people, material and risks, for example cyberbullying, trolling and sexting.  As children’s level of maturity and judgement is still developing, they are also more susceptible to marketing and inappropriate social interactions and of course there is the risk of children revealing too much information about themselves online.  Generally I feel most of these negatives can be reduced if adults are open to talking with children about the risks, about what should not be posted online and about what to do if they are exposed to inappropriate content online.

This week's course also discusses gaming and virtual worlds.  I'll be writing about these in an upcoming blog post.

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