Parenting Classes Florence Al – Digital media has rapidly changed the way parents and children communicate, have fun, find information and solve problems on a daily basis (both in ordinary and extraordinary circumstances like COVID-19 at home). Very young children are regular users of smartphones and tablets, so their early digital engagement poses new challenges for parent-child relationships and parenting roles. First, the chapter introduces the construct of “digital parents”, moving in the literature from “traditional” parenting styles to recent studies on “parental mediation”, that is, different behavioral models that parents use to control their children’s engagement with the Internet . digital media. Second, the chapter reviews empirical studies on different parental mediation practices (active or restrictive behavior) and how they are adjusted according to the child’s characteristics (age, digital skills, etc.) or parental media literacy and beliefs. Finally, from a perspective of the two-way parent-child relationship, the chapter discusses the role of youth social engagement, communication, self-disclosure, and digital skills play on parenting beliefs and practices. Implications for parenting education and risk prevention of premature and excessive exposure to digital technologies are discussed.
Indeed, children’s experiences with digital technologies involve an increased citation of young users (also defined as “digital natives”) born and developed in environments where new digital technologies are widely available . This is now happening in early childhood due to the rapid proliferation of touch devices among younger children (or “the touch generation”; [2, 3]). Children aged 2-4 can actually use touch devices such as tablets or smartphones to play games or watch movies, and parents often even introduce their children to use them in boring social situations (for example, in the waiting room the pediatrician or in the restaurant; [ 4]). According to the latest report on worldwide penetration of the Internet among young people , one in three users is estimated to be a child or adolescent (under the age of 18). In general, children use digital technology at home, especially young children, with intense and prolonged activities, especially on weekends. Children often use digital technology at school at least one day a week (almost 30% among 9-11 year olds), even though school rules prohibit it in many countries. Access to digital technology is expanding among the younger generation, although there are still large differences in resources between developed and developing countries : for example, it has been estimated that children in Africa (Ghana) mainly use 0.9 mobile devices they create connections to the Internet, against 2.9 in South America (Chile) or 2.6 in Europe (Italy). Similarly, only 12% of children in Africa (Ghana), 21% in the Philippines and 26% in Albania can connect to the Internet at school, compared to 63-54% of children in other South American countries or Europeans, such as Argentina. , Uruguay or Bulgaria. This fact raises several questions about how to guarantee the young generation the opportunities offered by new technologies (to study, improve skills, socialize, etc.), protect them from the potential dangers of the digital world (ie contact with unknown people, exposure to violence). / pornographic content, etc.). In fact, although children are growing up in a reality spread by new media, they are not automatically “digitally literate”, that is, able to juggle the digital world and think about it. Studies show that not only young users, but also teenage users “find it difficult to find, manage and evaluate information, manage their privacy online and ensure their personal safety online and therefore may vary in their digital skills” (, p. 186).
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Along with their children, parents themselves are exposed to a great extent of media experience in many areas of their lives. Digital technologies have rapidly changed the way family members communicate, enjoy themselves, find information and solve everyday problems. Parents are also the first mediators of children’s experience with digital tools: they have the task of integrating their use into regular routines (play, entertainment, learning, eating, etc.), encouraging constructive and safe use.
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Describe the efforts and practices of parents to understand, support and monitor their children’s activities in digital environments. A growing body of research on digital parenting identifies the main approaches that can allow parents to “mediate” children’s activities with digital technology [6, 7, 8]. According to Vygotsky’s theory of child development and his concept of
, parental mediation can be considered a key aspect in facilitating interaction between children and new media. The zone of proximal development is an intermediate zone between what the child can do on his own and what he can learn through the guidance of others. In the course of a joint activity, support and help are adapted so that the child can improve his skills and gradually take responsibility for acting independently. Here are the activities
Environment, can reverse the relationship between the competent person (the adult) and the learner (the child). Today’s children have an early, almost “intuitive” approach to digital technology, so that in some cases they can become active agents towards their parents. When children’s knowledge and digital skills (e.g. the functions/advantages of a new app) win over parents, many shared experiences can be initiated by children, and children can also provide some form of digital support and education for parents. That
 seems to be a peculiar feature of digital experience, and it poses new challenges to the role of the parent. Reverse socialization describes all situations in which children have better understanding or more advanced skills than adults. This gap between generations is more marked in low-income families or in parents with little education who have limited resources and access to digital technology . However, in recent years, many parents have developed enough knowledge and technical skills to share digital experiences with their children [3, 12]; they appreciate the benefits of the Internet and strive to understand its complexities.
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A common difficulty that parents face actually comes from the proliferation of “portable” devices (smartphones and tablets) that children start using at a young age (under 2 years old; ). Then, due to unlimited access to Wi-Fi and improved connectivity, children include activities with mobile devices in many daily routines, for example during meals, homework, conversations with parents or before bed . Parents are particularly concerned about the “predominance” (or ubiquity) of mobile technology in daily activities , and fear that effective guidance and control over them may decrease. Studies with large samples of young digital users (9-16 years) in many European countries have compared their parents’ previous views (
; ) proliferation of mobile devices. After age 4, many parents report that they know less about their children’s online activities and find it more difficult to closely monitor their children’s use (such as time spent online). Interestingly, parents are now more aware of the risks of using the Internet  and prefer to talk to children about Internet safety (eg, not leaving personal data online or blocking unknown people) rather than restricting or ban Internet use . Parents can encourage or limit their children’s use of digital technology based on the opportunities or dangers they attribute to it. As parents themselves are regular, sometimes enthusiastic, users of digital media, their digital skills and confidence and daily frequency of use (or excessive use; ), as well as beliefs about the digital world , are all important factors, which researchers began to explore systematically.
Every parent has beliefs, that is, personal beliefs and opinions about how their children use media, such as their benefits or harms, or the age at which children should use them. Beliefs are the mental dimensions of attitudes that guide a person’s behavior and choices. When parents raise their children, they act and make choices based on their own perception of what is desirable or what they value positively for their child’s development . Although parents are not always aware of their beliefs, these influence the parent-child interaction and the child’s ability to learn, experience  and develop digital skills . Parental beliefs are important aspects of the parenting and family microsystem, along with factors such as parental history and education, socioeconomic status, and culture.
Parents have personal ideas about modern technologies: they may consider them as a source of entertainment/relaxation or a learning tool [21, 22]; on the contrary, for others, PCs, tablets and smartphones can be dangerous for children’s health (such as sleep problems, obesity, etc.;  ), for social risks (such as contact with the unknown or social isolation;  ). ), or because they disrupt parent-child activities and time spent together .
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A qualitative study  shows that parents have more pessimism (70.55%) than optimistic opinion (29.45%) about the use of the Internet by primary school children: for example, parents worry about the excessive time spent on the Internet, the interference in the face face face-to-face conversation, or that children lack the skills and maturity to handle any content suitable for older children (such as violence, sex or drug-related content). Other concerns are related to negative consequences for learning and academic performance (i.e. reduced attention), physical development (i.e. prolonged sedentary activity), social skills and interaction with peers (i.e. less opportunity to “learn to play together “) and child welfare. . -being (ie using smartphone to overcome boredom). Interestingly, many parents fear losing control over their children’s online behavior. On the contrary, positive beliefs are related to the positive effects of digital technologies on children’s entertainment, communication and learning, access to information,
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