The impact the online world can have on the lives of children and young people
Young people are growing up in a world where technology has always been present for them and this can have both a positive and negative impact on their lives. On the one hand, going online can mean being connected to friends, sharing experiences and learning new things but all of these experiences can also pose challenges for young people. Our digital wellbeing can be influenced by the choices we make online, the content we see, the interactions we have with others and even how long we spend engaging with technology and the internet. Reports have found that those who spend extended amounts of time online are more likely to see upsetting content, receive abusive comments or send abuse to others.
Technology and the internet should be there to enhance and simplify our lives rather than be a cause of distraction, worry or upset. However, not all online experiences are positive for young people and this can have a negative impact on how they feel about themselves, their friendships and relationships and even how they see the wider world.
Children are engaging with technology from a very young age and their early online experiences can shape their understanding of the wider world and human interaction. For children aged 3-7, their online use could mainly consist of watching videos online, playing games or searching for content and this could be done using parents’ phones, family tablets or even their own devices. This access to online content could mean they are at risk of seeing inappropriate, worrying or upsetting content which could impact on their digital wellbeing.
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Children aged 7-11 have become increasingly independent users of technology and the internet with many of them owning their own devices. Their online use will consist of many of the same activities as younger children (gaming, watching video content) but they may be independently accessing content which is intended for an older audience and beginning to explore the use of social media through services like Tik Tok, Snapchat and Instagram. This access to online content which is intended for older users and desire for independence when going online could mean they are at an increased risk of seeing inappropriate content which could impact on their digital wellbeing.
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Young people aged 11-14 are likely to be completely independent in their internet and technology use and may use social media, online games and watch online videos on a daily basis. When it comes to supporting young people aged 11-14 with digital wellbeing we need to empower them to make choices which are right for them and will make their online lives purposeful, positive and inspiring.
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The internet and technology have become such an integral part of everyday life for young people and is inbuilt into many of their social interactions, information gathering and presentation of their self to the wider world. Young people aged 14-18 are usually very active users of the internet and this is often perpetuated by a society which is fully immersed in the digital world. Much of our communication with loved ones, applications for courses or jobs or submitting work now happens solely online.
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NOTE: This material is based on Digital Wellbeing