A snapshot survey carried out by Middlesex University academic, Dr Jacqueline Harding, reveals that parents say they are in desperate need of help to mediate their children’s digital experiences in the home.
The results reveal that many parents of children of all ages feel neither fully prepared for the digital onslaught that surrounds their children from TV to iPads and X-boxes to phones, nor aware of where and how to find support to inform their parenting decisions.
The survey coincides with the launch of a free web TV channel produced by Dr Harding with the support of Middlesex University London students and academics, Tomorrowschildtv.com (TCTV). The free pilot online web channel contains over forty films designed to help parents in the digital age.
That far-off "digital future" came upon us both much faster and in more myriad ways than expected, and for those of us in positions of responsibility to children and young people, it is a strong possibility we did not feel ready. When undertaking this research parents were often quite emotional and told me they were in desperate need."
Dr Jacqueline Harding, Middlesex University
The parents of 40 children took part in the study which involved a survey and in-depth interviews. Today’s research is the first stage of a longitudinal study. Key results are as follows:
Parents were asked where and when they mediate their children’s media experiences and digital skills, where they currently get advice and which type of media they ‘monitor’, ‘restrict’, ‘intervene’ or ‘encourage’.
Commenting on the research and the launch of TCTV, Dr Jacqueline Harding, Senior Lecturer in Childhood Studies at Middlesex University said:
“That far-off ‘digital future’ spoken about at the start of the new internet age, came upon us both much faster and in more myriad ways than expected, and for those of us in positions of responsibility to children and young people, it is a strong possibility we did not feel ready. When undertaking this research parents were often quite emotional and told me they were in desperate need of help to understand digital technology and how it impacts on their children’s well-being.
“They have so many questions. 'How long should my children be online?' 'My ten year old wants a smartphone, all her friends want one – what should I do?' 'I think my daughter is being bullied on social media but I don’t know what to do'. Many parents say they feel they are losing touch with their children and want to enhance their own digital skills to connect with them again. Overwhelmingly, parents reported that a film-based platform would be very helpful.
“TCTV is aiming to support parents and plug this gap. It’s completely free, contains interviews with experts in the field and enables parents to share their experiences. It also provides a fantastic resource to build on research in this area.”
TCTV is a pilot online web channel for parents and guardians of under-18s, with over forty films consisting of round-the-table discussions on a range of issues with children and adults, supported by vox pops. Expert contributors to the discussions include NSPCC, Childnet, The Children’s Commissioner’s Office, Beano, KidZania and of course parents and children sharing their views.
Films from TCTV will be syndicated to trusted sites. Stage two and three of the study will involve continuing research into the effectiveness of the work. Middlesex University provided the studios for filming, which was conducted by media students under the expert guidance of senior lecturers and produced by Dr Harding. Full consent forms were completed by each contributor.