At Digital Awareness UK, we’ve been working with Vodafone to share ‘Lockdown Learnings’ – the latest insights and research on technology and parenting. This is our latest article in the series.
This time last year we shared the article ‘What tech legacy will COVID-19 leave for families?’, making a series of predictions about how the pandemic would shape the way we use technology in the future. A year (and two more lockdowns) later, we’ve hit a few bumps in the road but are still optimistic about how the digital future looks for families. So what have we learned from lockdowns 2 and 3? Here are three of the biggest trends we’ve seen:
‘Digital wellbeing’ is here to stay
As we went into the second lockdown, many children started spending unprecedented amounts of time using technology – and terms like ‘tech burnout’, ‘Zoom fatigue’ and ‘tech neck’ became part of our daily conversation.
The concept of ‘screen time’ is starting to feel pretty outdated as families increasingly live their lives online. Before the pandemic, scientists were trying to precisely calculate the maximum amount of time children should spend in front of screens each day. Whilst this sort of guidance could be helpful, those conversations have now shifted towards how that time is being spent on and off screen. Leading parents to ask questions like:
- Is my child using screens in a healthy way? (focusing on posture, eye strain, taking breaks etc.)
- Are screens stopping my child from doing important things? (e.g., spending enough time exercising, eating, or sleeping)
- How does my child feel when using their tech? (do they appear anxious, happy, excited or angry?)
Online harm is on the rise
As our use of technology has increased, so too have the online dangers that parents fear the most. At Digital Awareness UK, we’ve been shocked by some of the experiences our young people are encountering online. And we’re seeing this backed up in the latest research: the NSPCC reports a 17% increase in online sex crimes against children since the first lockdown, sexting among young people has increased by 183% (SafeToNet), and Cyberbullying amongst young people has increased by 70% (Light).
To ensure this doesn’t become part of the legacy of COVID-19, we must do all we can to educate our children around:
- The risks and rewards of being online (see Vodafone’s Digital Parenting website for updates)
- How to stay secure online (using privacy settings, strong passwords, etc)
- Where to go for help. Whether it’s friends, family, the school, or the authorities – the most important thing is that children aren’t dealing with these issues on their own
Huge innovations in digital learning
Whilst digital poverty reminds us of the work that still needs to be done to reduce the digital divide, we’ve seen tremendous innovation in the learning space for those lucky enough to have access to digital education.
Families have developed their digital skills at speed to embrace the fantastic benefits of online learning, and we predict the rapid developments we’ve seen in spaces like immersive learning (using state-of-the-art technology like artificial intelligence and virtual reality) will continue to grow.
Digital parenting in 2021
Our advice for families who are considering their own tech legacy and impact is the same as ever – we encourage you to:
- Explore what positives can be taken away from this experience
- Chat to other parents to find out what’s working for them
- Adapt the rules if you need to
- Don’t put too much pressure on yourself
To read about these tips in more detail, click here. And make sure you check out our previous Lockdown Learnings articles. So far, we’ve looked at three popular apps and websites all parents should know about, as well as how to achieve a digital-life balance now that most children are back at school.