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Stephane Chaudron, European Commission – Joint Research Centre

Schools are instrumental for promoting healthy and meaningful use of digital devices at school but also at home. Indeed, using digital technologies for learning in schools improves parents’ perceptions of these technologies, which in turn helps children’s digital learning and supports a healthier and more meaningful use of digital devices.

This is among the results conclusion of a large JRC study on the use of digital technologies based on interviews with families in 21 countries.

At first, the study underlines the importance of parents’ attitudes towards digital technologies in the strategies they adopt towards their children’s use of digital tools, and thus also in shaping their children’s digital skills.

Parental strategies to children’s use of digital devices – open, permissive, supportive, restrictive or ‘laissez faire’ – rely on numerous interlinked factors, from the parents’ skills, knowledge, attitudes and perceptions towards digital technologies to their personal experiences and socio-economic background, says the JRC report.

Then the study highlights the important influence of school’s digital pedagogy on parents’ perceptions of the technology.

Parents tend to support their children’s digital learning opportunities more and have more positive views of the technologies if schools integrate meaningfully digital technology in their homework requests. Furthermore, some parents underline that schools are in a strategic position to provide the guidance they need and believe that schools are key in developing the digital skills.

Based on sample studies from different EU countries, the JRC study confirms that schools can have a major influence on the acquisition of digital competences – including creative use, when digital technologies are integrated as active learning tools as opposed to mere information sources.

Developing digital competence already at kindergarten level can also help to raise awareness on safety issues and build critical thinking among children regarding content and devices that they use.

The JRC study on the use of digital technologies by young children urges schools and teachers to enhance children’s digital and media literacy as early as possible.

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